Brooklyn Daily Eagle
On Saturday, Coney Island residents celebrated a major milestone in its recovery efforts as the Key Food at West 34th Street and Neptune Avenue reopened its doors for the first time since Hurricane Sandy swamped the neighborhood.
Like almost all businesses there, massive flooding at the Key Food destroyed equipment and damaged inventory. Few food markets remained operational in Coney Island after the storm, forcing residents to spend hours waiting in line at relief sites.
Another market, Fine Fare on Mermaid Avenue, is still shut and the city has been using its parking lot to distribute hot meals.
"We've been in Coney Island a long time and plan to stay to be part of the new growth and rebirth. It's amazing to see the thousands of people coming to Coney the last three weeks to volunteer to help clean up from Sandy,” Joe Doleh, the Key Food’s owner said in a statement. “We are also proud of our workers who put in the extra effort to make sure that the store is open to serve our neighbors.”
“The local neighborhood is delighted with the reopening, and the manager is dedicated to serving the community for the long term,” Ken Hochman, director of communications for the Alliance for Coney Island told the Brooklyn Eagle.
On a relief map drawn up by #ConeyRecovers – launched by the Alliance – one restaurant, Tom’s Coney Island Restaurant, is marked as open and serving hot meals. Another Coney business, the historic Gargiulos Restaurant -- established in 1907 --has said it is “racing to renovate” and will reopen on December 1.
But other iconic businesses in the neighborhood – like the Nathan’s Famous hot dog emporium and the Coney Island Freak Show -- remains shuttered. Luna Park’s rides remain intact, but massive piles of sand were swept in from the beach and their electrical systems were likely damaged by seawater.
All 14 acres of the New York Aquarium were flooded during the storm, creating “significant and long-lasting damage throughout the park,” according to the Aquarium. Even the NYPD’s 60th Precinct is closed.
Many Coney Island residents depended on the kindness of neighbors to get through the holidays; thousands of meals were served to residents on Thanksgiving. Sponsored by the Mayor's Fund and in coordination with Council Member Domenic M. Recchia, Jr., residents enjoyed a catered sit-down Thanksgiving dinner at the El Caribe catering hall in Mill Basin.
Additionally, #ConeyRecovers assisted in the distribution of hundreds of turkeys and pre-cooked Thanksgiving meals and over 6,000 meals were served at MCU Park on Thanksgiving Day.
“Superstorm Sandy left thousands of residents in our area displaced or severely impacted for the Thanksgiving holiday. In typical Coney Island spirit, however, the community came together to make this a holiday to remember for everyone,” Council Member Recchia said.
The Alliance has launched a fundraising effort at www.coneyrecovers.org.