It was one of the buildings few had heard about in Far Rockaway, Queens. It was storm ravaged, left in the dark, had no backup generators, no power and no food. However, thanks to independent filmmaker Kate Balandina, 711 Seagirt Avenue or the Sand Castle, started to receive attention from across the state, country and even the glob.
Balandina created a five minute film, which was put together after less than 2 hours of filming and just 3 hours of editing. She then posted the clip to YouTube and before long the comments came pouring in.
Balandina initially began her volunteer efforts the day after Sandy hit by cooking hot meals and distributing those meals with a group of friends around Brooklyn. But before long, they realized their help was needed in other areas and eventually, four days after the storm, they ended up in Far Rockaway. They were shocked to find the Rockaways was still desperately waiting for assistance.
“Every day when I was going there I was thinking, okay, so one more day we’re going to do this. One more day. Probably tomorrow, when we get there, there will be some governmental help. But, nothing. Everyday there was nothing,” said Balandina.
711 Seagirt emcompasses about 900 apartments with nearly 2,000 residents. While many evacuated, there were still hundreds who refused to leave and they were mostly elderly.
Balandina’s film shows how volunteers climbed up flight after flight of stairs and knocked on each and every door to hand deliver food and other supplies.