Despite surviving hurricane Sandy, life is still hard to live for Ye Qing, whose small Chinese restaurant on Far Rockaway Beach was completely devastated by flood.
Videographer & Producer: Menglin Huang
Archive Footage: SevereWeatherVideo.com
Until the hurricane, Ye Qing had never thought there was something that she might not overcome.
She came to this country alone, in 2002, and got a part-time delivery job at a local restaurant, while her husband was still living with their daughter in a small village in Fujian province, China. She worked very hard, saved some money, and brought them to the U.S. Before long, her husband left to start his own life somewhere else, because “there was no love between them anymore,” she said.
She got over it.
Almost five years ago, she opened up a Chinese takeout restaurant on Far Rockaway Boulevard, near Rockaway Beach, which cost all her life savings plus some borrowed from her relatives in China. She settled down with her then 8-year-old daughter, hired a worker, and made every effort to gain a footing in this non-Asian neighborhood.
She doesn’t speak English. Once she had a gun pointed at her head on her way to deliver food and was asked to give all her money.
But she got over it.
This time – after all her belongings and hard workings were washed away by flood? Not sure.
When I drowned in the water, my daughter held my hand, “Mom, even if we die tonight, we’ll be dying together.” I’ll never forget these words.
My name is Ye Qing, I opened up this Chinese restaurant “Garden Lee” on Far Rockaway Beach Blvd. I put all my life savings into it.
I was still at work when hurricane Sandy arrived. I thought nothing of it, because last year hurricane Irene wasn’t a big deal. So how severe this one could be? However, when I was making food, floodwaters rushed in. At beginning it was only knee-high. My daughter shouted at me, “Mom, let’s leave here! This place is flooded!” And I told her, “Take it easy. It won’t be.” But suddenly the water rose to my chest. And my daughter and I just ran for our lives. We hid in the subway station all night.
It was around 4 or 5 a.m., when floodwaters receded, that I came back here. I saw my restaurant was like this, and I cried hard. I had no idea what to do.
(These stuff all came from my blood money, and now I have to throw them away…sigh.)
I went to the insurance company, and they told me that they needed to arrange $800 million to those who had bought flood insurance first. And for a person like me who doesn’t have flood insurance, I can do nothing but WAIT, WAIT, and WAIT. But wait until when? What’s the source of my income?
(All my belongs have been washed away!)
People at the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association told me to get loans. But looking at my messed restaurant, I don’t even know whether or not I could pay them off.
It would cost about $30,000 to reopen my business.
My biggest wish is that the insurance company could reimburse my restaurant equipment. If they didn’t, I wish the government could support me to reopen the business.
If I still couldn’t get it fixed…if I didn’t get any money back, I would leave here with my daughter and find a new place and a new job, a job that allows me to go home at night. That is my only hope now.
(I’m getting some candles to lighten my place.)
BEHIND THE SCENE
I heard about Ye’s story through a friend who covers the Chinese community in Queens. The day after hurricane Sandy, they got a list of victims from the local official’s office that Ye had just reported her problems to.
http://bit.ly/SiPAWC – 28 unbelievable photos from the Rockways in the wake of hurricane Sandy