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What were some of the most and/or least hopeful things that you saw?
Seeing the remains of people's homes and all of their belongings, covered in sand, sitting on the street and waiting to be picked up by a trash truck was pretty sad. A large part of what was least hopeful was the sheer amount of destruction I saw. We drove through block after block, street after street, in the Rockaways, and it seemed that very few areas had been spared. Some people's homes had entirely burnt to the ground. I can't imagine what it would be like to lose everything you own.
I also saw the backyard of a lady who we delivered supplies to. (One of the images in the series). She had a beautiful backyard overlooking the water, but everything in the backyard is now completely ruined. It's a striking dichotomy—the beautiful view and what used to be a beautiful place to probably hang out and spend summer nights. You could really see how much people have lost, when you imagined how things used to be, what they had before.
As far as most hopeful things - it would be the sheer amount of people/strangers/groups who came out to help the Rockaways, as well as seeing the residents of the Rockaways helping each other. I think in all this tragedy a lot of people have shown that they really want to help their neighbors, and they do actually care about their community.
There's obviously a lot of work to do, but I think New Yorkers are especially good at picking up and doing what needs to be done to move forward. I think it will be important in the coming weeks and months for people to continue to volunteer and help out with the rebuilding and clean up, as it looks like an immense project.
See more of Winnie Au's work at her website winniewow.com