December 12, 2012, New York, N.Y. – On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy crashed into the east coast with a force few had ever witnessed. Residents of Long Beach, N.Y., caught the storm’s full wrath as it splintered the city’s iconic boardwalk and drowned its homes, rendering nearly the entire city of 35,000 without power and water for weeks.
In the city’s West End neighborhood, a well-loved bar nearing its 100th anniversary suddenly became the de facto community center for a community in need. Shine’s Bar at 55 California St., had always been a locals’ joint. But when owners Brent Wilson, 32, and his wife Megan Casey, 29, started putting out donated food and supplies for their neighbors, they soon found themselves at the epicenter of their neighborhood’s recovery effort.
At any given time of day, shell-shocked West End residents wandered into Shine’s for a plate of hot food, a few bottles of water and neighborly conversation. At night, they huddled in the unheated bar and drank beer — on the house, though, so patrons gave thanks by donating money towards the till. This happened almost every day for three weeks, as rescue teams and volunteers kept dropping off food and sundries at Shine’s, knowing full well that this bar was the best place to reach as many people at once.
While Wilson and Casey insist there’s nothing special about their efforts, their neighbors would surely disagree. The sense of hope and security that Shine’s emitted in the days and weeks after the storm may well have been the shining moment in the bar’s 100-year history.
This video features just a few of the many voices who can attest to that.
Casey and Wilson did not escape the storm unscathed. Shine’s will have to be gutted and renovated, and new appliances purchased. The couple also had to postpone the bar’s 100-year anniversary party, originally planned for November 17. Yet, despite these setbacks, things are moving along. After weeks living in the dark, most West End residents now have power. But they are not likely to forget those first days after the storm, where they sought and found warmth and friendship at their local bar.