By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Councilwoman Sara Gonzalez (D-Sunset Park-Red Hook) is vowing help for her Red Hook constituents whose homes and businesses were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.
Gonzalez recently conducted a post-Sandy inspection tour of the Red Hook portion of her district and received a sobering assessment of the damage caused by the superstorm.
The damage was particularly severe, the councilwoman said.
"Even the extensive news coverage of the storm in Red Hook could not prepare me for the actual conditions there. It is a horrible situation, but certainly if any community has the spirit and vigor needed to overcome it, its Red Hook," Gonzalez said.
Councilwoman Gonzalez visited the very spot where she had joined Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Bruno just a few months earlier for a National Hurricane Preparedness Week event to announce the start of hurricane season. Officials urged residents in low-lying areas to be prepared and ready for potential inclement weather in the months to come.
In the wake of the hurricane, at that very location adjacent to Fairway Market along Van Brunt Street, there was severe flooding, downed cables and electrical wiring, and significant damage to nearby businesses.
Gonzalez and her staff visited a large section of Red Hook, meeting with local residents and business owners.
The councilwoman visited the home of Roslyn, a woman on Pioneer Street, and went into her basement. While the water had receded, the damage was extensive. Many papers, clothes, and pieces of furniture were unsalvageable and there was potential structural damage from the water, Gonzalez said.
Along the same block, other neighbors had suffered the same fate. Electrical lines and trees were down all the way up Pioneer Street towards Coffey Park, where there were countless downed trees and limbs. The sign for the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center around the corner on Richards Streets was torn apart and dispersed along the street. Nearby HNK Grocery lost almost all of their merchandise.
At a rally organized by the Red Hook Initiative on Columbia Street at the Red Hook Houses, Councilwoman Gonzalez told of her efforts to help expedite the cleanup of the area. She worked to coordinate a food, water and supply distribution event at Coffey Park with the Office of Emergency Management and the National Guard in the immediate aftermath of the storm, she said.
Gonzalez also joined Small Business Services Commissioner Bob Walsh, along with Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President Carlo Scissura and US Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn-Manhattan), hosted a gathering of small business owners at the Kentler Gallery to discuss grant, loan, and support services.
Anyone seeking to volunteer should contact the Red Hook Initiative at 718-858-6782. Gonzalez is working with local business owners, residents and the New York City Economic Development Corporation to organize a major fundraising concert to benefit Red Hook residents affected by the hurricane.