The Night the Storm Hit

A Rockaway fisherman tells how it went down during Sandy

Paul Greenberg
5 min readOct 29, 2022


“Hurricane Sandy Aftermath — Howard Beach — 10/30/2012” by Pam_Andrade is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Ten years ago, just after Hurricane Sandy hit the New York Bight, a Rockaway fisherman named Frank Culleton relayed this story to me in the lobby of the hotel where he’d been evaculated.

When the morning tide came in you could tell it was going to be a big one. I live in Arverne, a neighborhood in the Rockaways, and in the morning when I was walking up Thursby Avenue I could already see the water coming in on that first tide. But no one was really panicking yet. We get flooding from time to time. But the wind hadn’t even started blowing yet and already the water was coming down the road. That’s when I see these two swans. They’re just as happy as can be floating down the middle of the road. The water went around the corner and the swans went that way too. I wonder what happened to them.

Come nighttime, the wind’s really starting to blow. I didn’t really think about evacuating. My idea — I was going to sit in my boat and ride it out like a Viking. I’ve been in hurricanes before.

Anyway, during the day I caught a load of fish ’cause, you know, when a big storm’s coming you better have something on hand that you can sell afterward.

Now here comes more water, pouring down the road. The funny thing is when floods come in and the cars go underwater, all the lights in the cars go on like something from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Around 7 p.m. I get in my truck. Suddenly I see a huge wave coming down the road. I turn down another road and there’s an electrical wire in the water, sparking, so I go up the next street.

I turn around and see a friend of mine on the porch of his house and I say, “Hey, Mike, you need a hand?”

He says, “Yeah, come on in, I could use some help.”

We go down in the basement and start putting up all the electrical equipment. We take a break and watch a little TV, try to see what’s happening on the Weather Channel. It doesn’t sound too bad so far.



Paul Greenberg

New York Times bestselling author of Four Fish as well as The Climate Diet and Goodbye Phone, Hello World