With power back on in Manhattan and most of the city’s subways running at pre-storm capacity, it’s easy to fall into the belief that a week and a half after Hurricane Sandy made landfall, New York City has returned to a state of relative normalcy.

On the Rockaway Peninsula, however, just 12 miles southeast of the newly-relit One World Trade Center, there’s nothing normal to be found: power outages have left much of the area in complete darkness, camouflaged National Guard vehicles patrol the streets every night, and burned-down buildings leave a pungent stench of ash in the air.

And save for the residents themselves, no one on the ground is working harder to restore the peninsula than the men and women of Occupy Sandy.

At around 7:20 last night, ANIMAL arrived at the group’s YANA Medical Center at Beach 113th Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard, an impromptu space that serves as a health clinic and an Occupy command center. We found the workers there in the midst of a meeting, passionately discussing logistics with topics ranging from the recruitment of Russian and Spanish translators to assist in communicating with residents of the highly diverse area, to the use of social media to reach out to volunteers.

In the series of interviews that followed, we learned about the state of the Rockaways, the work Occupy Sandy is doing to help, and how FEMA, the Red Cross, the National Guard, and the city government have largely failed to assist in getting the beleaguered area back on its feet.
(video: Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork)