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Mobile Library Offers Rockaways Residents An Escape Amid The Destruction

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Parts of the Rockaways are still without power four weeks after superstorm Sandy devastated much of the area.

As residents struggle to get back to some normalcy, the Queens Public Library offered help in the form of a mobile library offering books, charging stations and recovery information.

WCBS 880's Alex Silverman reports


"The library got destroyed pretty badly," librarian Casper Jarecki told WCBS 880's Alex Silverman.

Jarecki said the mobile library offered critical help to residents in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

"Information where to get jobs or to get food," she told Silverman.

Just four days after the ocean crashed through the big glass windows of the Peninsula branch on Rockaway Beach Boulevard, a yellow bus pulled in to the parking lot to offer residents a break from the devastation.

"There's no heat, no power, no light," resident Gene Burke told Silverman.

But the mobile library has given him a place to go to get a break and catch up.

"Magazines I can read and also the New York Times," Burke said.

Inside Queens Mobile Library
Inside Queens Mobile Library (credit: Alex Silverman/WCBS 880)

The books were washed off of the bookshelves and some wound up on the street and sidewalk outside during the flooding.

"Stay positive because we will definitely rebuild from this," a library worker told Silverman.

Matt Allison manages the mobile library parked outside the Peninsula branch.

"The windows crashed in and water went in there," Allison said. "We got here Nov. 2, that Friday after the storm."

Allison said the in the days after the storm, residents flocked to the bus for information on where to find food and to charge their phones.

"Now it's coming back more to library things, people returning their books," Allison told Silverman.

The library is not enforcing fines for donated books distributed from the mobile library, so residents can keep them or return them for others to read.

"In this situation, we have to share," a resident perusing the shelves told Silverman.

The storm destroyed more than 100,000 items including books and DVDs in four of the five library branches in the Rockaways, the New York Times reported.

The Peninsula branch alone suffered a loss of about 40,000 materials in addition to laptops and other electronic equipment, according to the newspaper.

Flooded out Brooklyn Public Library branches in Coney Island, Red Hook and Gerritsen Beach remain closed.

None of the New York Public Library branches in Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island were seriously damaged in Sandy. But some had to close after the storm due to power outages, the Times reported.

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