Hurricane Sandy Documentary to Premiere in Rockaway – “John Cori Warned You” weaves together the story of rebuilding a community

Hurricane Sandy Documentary to Premiere in Rockaway – “John Cori Warned You” weaves together the story of rebuilding a community

A still from “John Cori Warned You” shows Friends of Rockaway Beach founders Eddy Pastore, left, and John Cori. Photos Courtesy Dan Brown

Hours after the worst of Hurricane Sandy receded from Rockaway, leaving in its wake a peninsula nearly unrecognizable to so many of its denizens who lost their homes and livelihoods in one of the worst storms to ever hit New York City, four words were spray painted on a handball court in Rockaway Beach: John Cori warned you.

Cori, who grew up in Rockaway, had for years been urging the city to prepare for a storm like Sandy, advocating for everything from replenishing sand on the beach to building rock jetties to better protect the shoreline from the flooding that devastated neighborhoods throughout the peninsula during the hurricane. He and another area resident, Eddy Pastore, formed a group called Friends of Rockaway Beach, and the two have repeatedly issued a message to the city: After forgetting about the peninsula for far too long, it’s time to remember – and protect – Rockaway.

The story of Cori’s and Pastore’s fight is now told in a documentary titled with the same four words that have resounded throughout the Rockaways in the year since Sandy, “John Cori Warned You.” The feature-length film, which will premiere Saturday at the Knights of Columbus in Rockaway Beach, not only tells the story of Cori and Pastore, but of residents throughout the peninsula in an attempt to weave together a narrative of what it means to rebuild – homes, lives, and an entire community.

“As much as it deals with John and Eddy and their journey this year, it also branches off into others’ perspective – we talk about insurance and FEMA and the struggles our residents have gone through,” said Dan Brown, a Rockaway resident and director of “John Cori Warned You.”

The documentary "John Cori Warned You" will be shown for the first time this Saturday.

The documentary “John Cori Warned You” will be shown for the first time this Saturday.

“It’s been over a year, and our town is no longer a town of victims or a town of survivors -w e’re a thriving town and we’ve learned to band together,” Brown continued.

The movie, on which Brown has been working for the past 10 months, follows Cori, Pastore and the Friends of Rockaway Beach’s attempts to warn residents, agencies and elected officials about Rockaway’s vulnerabilities in storms following Hurricane Irene in 2011. The movie’s timeline begins in the days leading up to Sandy and ends on the steps of City Hall in March, when Cori, Pastore and a crowd of Sandy victims joined legislators to call for permanent protection against future storms.

The documentary also features testimonials from area residents reliving the night of the hurricane, as well as interviews with U.S. Rep. Greg Meeks (D-Jamaica), city Comptroller John Liu, Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), state Sens. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and James Sanders (D-St. Albans), and Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder about their perspectives on fighting for residents in the aftermath of Sandy.

“Hopefully people will see the movie and have a sense of what went on here,” said Brown, who began working on the movie after he was laid off from his job following Sandy and began volunteering at a redistribution center for hurricane victims.

“At the very least, it’s a platform for people to tell their story,” Brown said of the film. “The story is really the star of this movie.”

And, Brown said, it’s a reminder to all those in power: Rockaway residents will never stop fighting for their home. And they won’t forget those who help them along the way – and those who don’t.

“We’ve had borough presidents out here campaigning; the mayoral candidates have come out here to campaign,” Brown said. “We’ve the put the word out that we vote – and vote for the candidates who came out and didn’t ignore us.”

“John Cori Warned You” will be held Saturday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus located at 333 Beach 90 St. in Rockaway Beach. The movie screening will begin at 8 p.m. There is a suggested donation of $10, which will go towards the local Knights of Columbus chapter.

By Anna Gustafson


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