Our Time Press

In Sandy’s aftermath, Borough suffers extensive water damage along coast, downed trees inland, long waits for fuel

By Nico Simino, Amelia Rawlins and Stephen Witt

A Long Fall: This tree — more than a century old — fell on a McDonough Street
block in Stuyvesant Heights at Hurricane Sandy’s peak. Photo credit: Robert Cornegy

While Hurricane Sandy left Central Brooklyn relatively unscathed, areas of the borough, the city and the region left a total of 90 dead including nearly half in New York City and counting at press time.

Mayor Bloomberg said Thursday that more bodies were being found as police and firefighters were “going .block-by-block and door-to-door in the areas devastated by the hurricane.”

Among those search workers found on Thursday were the bodies of two young boys from Staten Island, who were swept from their mother’s arms by Sandy’s rising flood waters Monday, police said.

Other areas in the Brooklyn particularly hard hit included the Rockaways, East New York, Canarsie, Gerritsen Beach, Manhattan Beach, Sheepshead Bay and Brighton Beach. Additionally, several stores along Mermaid Avenue were looted in the hard hit area of Coney Island.

Rockaways resident Janay Cauthen evacuated to her grandparents house in East New York after her house was flooded only to find no power in East New York either.

“The water in my house filled the basement and the pressure blew my back door off,” she said. “I evacuated to East New York because the water smell li9ke sewer water and don’t want to be breathing that stuff.”

As of press time Thursday, millions of households and businesses remained without power, including much of lower Manhattan which saw cars floating down Wall Street during the storm. Also at press time, there were no subway trains to Manhattan as all the subway tunnels beneatth the East River were flooded as was the Battery Park and Hudson River tunnels.

On a more positive note, Mother Nature’s rage actually could be credited for causing some bipartisan politics in the extremely divided nation with the presidential election between incumbent Democratic President Barrack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney just days away. This came when New Jersey Republican candidate Chris Christie praised Obama repeatedly for the quick federal response in both money and manpower in the massive recovery effort.

When a conservative television station asked Christie about the praise he offered so close to the presidential election, the outspoken New Jersey governor said, “If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics, then you don’t know me.”

Since Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on Monday evening and Tuesday morning, the Crown Heights community has experienced several uprooted trees as well as building and car damages. Sandy’s treacherous wind and rain was the cause of an uprooted tree on Lincoln Place and on Prospect Place between Franklin and Bedford which completely blocked the street.

Most services in the area were shut down from Monday until Wednesday morning due to a power shortage and suspended transit. Although many were heavily affected, Sandy seemed to lighten the load for others.

“We had a plan of action,” said Affreaka Austin, director of Women In Need, which provides services in Crown Heights and East New York. “Our clients were given staff contact numbers, and the numbers of the superintendents of each building, just in case power went out or if something happened with flooding.”

According to Austin, the women’s-based housing program received one report of no heat and hot water, but all clients are currently in good condition.

As of Monday, the 3 and 4 train lines, the main trains that service the Crown Heights area, have been suspended. The B46 and B44 are running on full schedule free of charge.

In Bedford-Stuyvesant, except for some downed trees and wind damage, most residents woke up to find their homes and neighborhoods mostly intact. The biggest problem facing central Brooklyn residents now might be the lack of public transportation.

However, there were many reports of downed trees in the neighborhood and in Herbert Von King Park. This included one of the neighborhood’s oldest and largest trees, estimated to be around 100-years-old, which was uprooted and crushed a car on McDonough Street between Tompkins and Throop Avenues (see cover photo).

Male Democratic district leader Robert Cornegy spent a great deal of time in the emergency evacuation shelter at Boys and Girls High School.  “I thought it was run phenomenally,” said Cornegy. “There was a separate quarter for pets and most of the people there were homeless. These were people who usually find their way around when the weather is decent. The shelter wasn’t turning away anybody and there was even room for the disabled.”

One Flatbush resident, Jose Alvarez, had quite the ordeal during the Hurricane. His mother, who was taken to Coney Island Hospital just a few days before the storm hit, was forced to evacuate along with other patients at the hospital.

“It was crazy, they told everyone to evacuate and didn’t even have enough staff to help out fully. I was bringing people out of the hospital myself. I brought out about three people before I even got my mom out,” said Alvarez. “They had said that there was a fire but there was no fire, a generator had maybe blown up, but nothing too crazy.”

At the time this story went to press many of the police precincts were out helping to fix up their respective communities, so they could not be reached for contact. Also reports from East New York could not be acquired by press time.

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