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Articles by Joaquim Salles

Joaquim Salles is a multimedia journalist based in New York City. He has worked as video journalist at the BBC’s Washington, DC, bureau and as a writer and director of documentary films and series in his native Brazil.

Featured Article

Connie Martinez looks out the window of her Oakwood Beach home

This story is part of the Grist series Flood. Retreat. Repeat, an exploration of how communities are changing before, during, and after managed retreat.

Less than an hour’s drive from downtown Manhattan, on the eastern shore of Staten Island, lies the neighborhood of Oakwood Beach. A decade ago, it was a tight-knit working-class community of roughly 300 homes. Bungalows and beach houses lined its quiet streets, boasting ample backyards, easy water access, and a calmness rare in a city like New York. Today, the neighborhood is unrecognizable, a barren landscape of empty lots and flooded streets. Almost everyone has left.

When Superstorm Sandy ravaged New York on October 29, 2012, Oakwood Beach was one of the hardest hit areas. A 14-foot storm surge, among the highest recorded in the city, swept across the neighborhood. Entire houses were lifted from their foundations and carried across the surrounding marsh. Three people died.

Low-lying and encircled by wetlands, Oakwood Beach had always been prone to flooding, but the devastation caused by Sandy was unprecedented. Rather than rebuilding and waiting for the next storm, ... Read more