Harrowing Voicemail Becomes Voiceover In Video Plea For Rockaway Beach

"I don’t think people understand exactly what happened in our neighborhood and we want people to know, cause we want people to come and help."

"My front stoop is now a piece of the boardwalk," says the woman’s voice. "There are cars piled on top of cars piled under boardwalk. People have died, a hundred houses set on fire and are gone. I can’t see my block.

"I don’t think people understand exactly what happened in our neighborhood and we want people to know, cause we want people to come and help."

There have been thousands of calls for assistance in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, from governors’ speeches to radio ads to tweets posted from dying iPhones. A burgeoning two-person production shop called Everyone and Company turned one of the voices of the storm into a three-minute video titled "Rockaway Needs Us."

The centerpiece of the video is a voicemail message from a friend of the filmmakers who lives in Rockaway Beach, Queens, one of the communities hardest hit by the storm. Scenes from Sandy’s aftermath—a battered boardwalk, piles of cars, helicopters flying above—play out as the woman describes the damage.

"It’s like a scene out of some end-of-the-world movie, and there’s no exaggeration there," says the woman, whose voice is accompanied by soft music. "Words can’t describe it."

Poppy de Villeneuve, one half of Everyone and Company, identified the woman on the voicemail as Michelle, "a good friend" that neither filmmaker heard from until three days after the storm.

"She lives right on Rockaway beach and that is her community," says de Villeneuve. "We wanted in some small way to spread the word that Rockaway needs help," so on Friday, she and her partner, Peabody award-winning producer, director and cinematographer Alex Braverman, traveled to Rockaway to shoot original footage.

"We put some images out there so people could see what is going on," she said. The video concludes with information on how to make donations of blood and money.

De Villeneuve, a photographer and commercial director who counts Ray-Ban and the New York Times among her clients, says the response to the video so far has been "amazing." It’s been viewed nearly 30,000 times since being uploaded to YouTube on Monday, and at least one television network has been in touch about buying some of the footage. The video can also be seen on the company’s website.

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  • Bruce Weaver

    To be brutally honest! I love this film which promotes helping others~ and at the same time all it takes is one look at a photo of Rockaway Beach Spit to say, this is going to happen again and again! If climate change is real then Rockaway Beach will no longer exist! Time to move on. Sad but true. Use the opportunity to not rebuild but to get out now.

    With that rant, I suggest you all watch "The Selby's film on community of Rockaway Beach.

  • Suzanne Davis

    I think the film speaks volumes.   It is poignant and eloquent in its  unsettling pictures and the heartfelt commentary.  The filmmakers have a great eye - this little video captures the tragedy more dramatically than any of the news footage I have seen.  I hope it inspires many to donate to help the people of the Rockaways.  I did.   suzanne davis