Hurricane Sandy announced itself by tossing a section of Boardwalk against the Promenade nursing home in Rockaway Park, Queens, blowing out its windows and sending waves washing through the first floor.
On the sixth floor, Kevin P. Johnson, 58, who has a crippling brain disease, saw his television flicker off. “I thought to myself, ‘That’s O.K., the backup generator will kick in,’ ” he said.
It did not. Promenade’s generator was on the ground floor, which quickly filled with swirling Atlantic brine at high tide on Oct. 29. As waves slammed against the building for hours, patients remained inside in the dark, growing steadily more hungry and cold.
The kitchen had flooded, and the owners had not stocked enough food, staff members say.
Amid the worst hurricane to hit New York City in nearly 80 years, the home, the Promenade Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, failed to provide the most basic care to its patients, according to interviews with five employees, federal, city and hospital officials, and shelter directors.