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Sand-Swept Streets, Broken Boardwalk, Flooded Basements Plague Rockaways

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- While the raging fire in Breezy Point received much of the attention in the wake of Superstorm Sandy in the Rockaways, destruction on the peninsula in Queens is far more widespread.

As CBS 2's John Slattery reported Wednesday, piles of broken timbers lay along the beachfront, left over from a boardwalk that was destroyed, but initially was not entirely broken up. Sanitation crews later came and broke the boards up into pieces that could be loaded on to trucks and taken out.

The boards came from piers that once stood about 150 yards away. And the whole surrounding area was a mass of destruction, including the surrounding homes.

Jack McCloy, a Manhattan resident, was out checking on his son's home Wednesday.

"The damage is extensive. This is part of the boardwalk that was on the other end of the street, and it blew all the way down the end of the street," McCloy said. "And if you take a look, it's all sand, instead of sidewalk. The entire sidewalk was sucked right of the ground and blown down the street. The power poles were sucked right out of the ground."

At McCloy's son's home in Rockaway Park, the first floor sustained some damage, and the basements were flooded with about 7 1/2 feet of water – a level within about a foot of the ceilings.

It was impossible to get all the way down the stairs.

"They'll have to pump out the water first before they can get any prices on doing any of the renovations down there," McCloy said.

"We don't know, when they try to pull out the water, whether the walls down there are going to collapse in," McCloy's wife said. "We have no idea what's going to happen when they pull the water out."

The entire complex was underwater, all the way across, she said.

The Rockaways were among the first areas struck harshly by Superstorm Sandy. As early as Sunday night, brown, foamy water had overtaken the beach.

The Rockaways were among the Zone A districts that Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered evacuated.

Other problems were also reported in the Rockaways since Sandy. The Queens District Attorney's Office announced Wednesday that 15 people had been arrested for looting businesses in the area, including a liquor store, clothing stores and a Radio Shack.

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