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Hurricane Sandy hits DUMBO hard; Downtown and Brooklyn Heights escape major damage

David Crofton, co-owner of One Girl Cookie in DUMBO, says the water level inside the shop reached at least four feet. Photo: Mary Frost

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

In DUMBO, the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy caused heavy damage to residences and businesses closest to the East River. Some are still without power.

Bins of cookies and supplies from the popular One Girl Cookie shop (on Main Street at Water Street) were washed out by the East River when waves smashed a window and water surged inside. “We lost milk, butter… Containers of cupcakes were lifted up, and people found them in Brooklyn Bridge Park,” David Crofton, co-owner with his wife, told the Brooklyn Eagle Tuesday.  

Crofton estimated that the water level inside the shop reached at least four feet.  “Tubs of cookie dough floated to the back. We don’t have power, so I can’t check to see if the equipment is working. I didn’t expect it to be so bad. We thought duct tape would be OK; we never expected it to be waist high.”

“We’re trying to clean up, but it’s not fresh water – it’s East River perfume,” he said. “Guys are coming tomorrow to start on painting.”

Crofton said he was grateful for the help he’s been receiving from total strangers.  “So many people have come by and helped us out. About 12 people helped clean up.  Some were customers, but I didn’t know many of them. They mopped the floor and picked up trash. There are incredible people in this neighborhood.”

Ken Mandelbaum, a resident of 1 Main Street since 1999 said the flood waters reached five feet high in the lobby.  “The whole building is flooded along with the basement. Across the street [at the Empire Stores] it came up to the scaffolding.”

About half of the building’s residents refused to evacuate, he said. “They warned us to leave, but we didn’t. There’s no power. The super can’t make it in while the subways are out, so people are signing in to man the door.”

Mandelbaum, in the real estate business, says he’s still not sorry he lives in a flood zone. “It was a 1-in-100-year storm. This is a great location.”

But a building owner on lower Old Fulton Street was distraught as he pumped out his basement, flooded from floor to ceiling with murky seawater. “You people walking your dogs and taking pictures,” he yelled at gawkers out for a disaster stroll. “People are dying here!”

A weary restaurateur at 7 Old Fulton Street leaned against his building as water pumped out onto the sidewalk from his basement. “I’ve been pumping the basement all night,” he said.

Galapagos Art Space was also inundated. Volunteers headed to the business on Wednesday to help clean up; it was owner Robert Elmes’ birthday.

According to the DUMBO BID, 20 Jay Street – the future home of a state-of-the-art “Made in NY” Media Center – is closed indefinitely. Mayor Bloomberg had announced the planned Media Center with much fanfare two weeks ago.

The fate of 10 Jay Street is unclear, said the BID. 55 Washington is open but with limited services.

During the hurricane’s peak on Monday night, people around the world viewed a chilling photo of waves lapping at the feet of the lovingly restored Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park, taken by Ana Andjelic and Brian Morrissey.

The ponies are OK, says the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, which heard from Jane Walentas, the carousel’s restorer, that the wooden carousel and horses, as well as the building, are in good shape.

“Unfortunately, however, the basement that houses all the electronics was totally flooded with approximately 5 feet of water,” she told the Conservancy.  “As soon as we can pump it out, we'll assess the damage. We're optimistic that the carousel will be fine, but it will probably take some time to get it fully restored to happily prancing again.”

Brooklyn Bridge Park is still assessing damage to the park's infrastructure and horticulture.

 “The impact of flooding to the electrical rooms of the irrigation houses, Carousel, office, and concession buildings has yet to be determined,” the Conservancy said in a statement. On Wednesday, volunteers with brooms and rakes cleaned up the Main Street section of Brooklyn Bridge Park.

On Tuesday a helicopter landed in the park as part of a disaster tour by Senator Charles Schumer, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and other officials. Crowds were told to stay back as the copter took off over the Wine Bar and flew off to the next stop.

Brooklyn Heights fared well compared to lower lying DUMBO. Tree limbs littered the blocks of the North Heights; a car on Cadman Plaza West had its front window smashed by a huge downed branch. Superintendents on windy Henry Street tied awnings to poles with ropes as the wind intensified. Many restaurants and stores were quick to reopen after the storm.

On Montague Street a few large tree branches fell to the sidewalk and news boxes were blown down, but most damage appeared superficial.

Montague Street BID's sanitation contractor, Block by Block, had worked to prepare the district before the hurricane, according to the BID. Regional Vice President Carin Cardone and the BID's sanitation crew were out on Sunday, securing trash receptacles to light poles, moving trash bags to the side streets for pick-up, clearing storm drains, and conducting a final cleaning.

According to the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, there is widespread damage to storefronts, signage and awnings throughout Downtown Brooklyn, but the majority of the damage is “cosmetic and not structural.”

“Thanks to the precautionary measures taken by our sanitation and security workers to secure our street furniture and fixtures before the storm, we saw very little damage to these items or to surrounding buildings caused by unsecured equipment,” the Partnership said in a statement.

The Partnership has compiled a list of damaged property throughout Downtown Brooklyn and is working to notify property owners, they said.

But other Brooklyn neighborhoods are not as fortunate. Borough President Marty Markowitz called for more of a  National Guard presence in a number of inundated neighborhoods on Wednesday.

 “In addition to flooding, power outages, lack of utilities, sanitation and water issues, and no transportation in neighborhoods such as Coney Island, Sea Gate, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Gerritsen Beach, Mill Basin, Sheepshead Bay, DUMBO, Red Hook and others, there have been unfortunate incidents of looting in some locations,” he said in a statement.

“All of our resources have been stretched to the limit, but in the name of public safety we need to send more National Guard personnel into Coney Island, Manhattan Beach, Gerritsen Beach, Red Hook and any other locations the governor deems appropriate.”

November 1, 2012 - 6:00am


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