In Red Hook After Sandy

The most striking thing was the garbage. On Saturday, the curbs of Red Hook were lined with heaps of trash, like every basement had been turned out onto the street: shitty books, waterlogged luggage, cracked fish tanks, stacks of plywood. On one board on Dikeman Street, someone had spray painted “SANDY WAS AN INSIDE JOB.”

We wandered around offering assistance but were mostly turned away: lots of other people had the same idea, and plenty of those in homes and storefronts pumping out water and carrying out debris had a surfeit of helpers. The extent of the damage varied widely, almost arbitrarily: Fort Defiance was annihilated; it’ll be months, I heard, before it’s open again. A block away, up a slight incline on Van Brunt, Hope & Anchor seemed untouched; the menu was slightly limited.

One of the guys from the Waterfront Museum told us that, miraculously, it was fine; three of them stayed on board during the storm and watched the water rise calmly, like in a bath, before the winds came. Up the block, Sunny’s was closed, dealing with flooding. Outside, a group of young people drank beer from bottles and kept warm around tree limbs burning in a garbage can. Farther north, Bait & Tackle was ok; it was full of sandwiches and other relief supplies. The taps weren’t working, but they did healthy business off of bottled beer and straight liquor.

We stayed there until night, and discovered the power was still out in that part of Red Hook. A police car was parked on the corner, its lights flashing, while people walked around carrying flashlights. Several people, including some stationed on corners, wore helmets with lights attached, like miners. Street lights were bright on Van Brunt from Wolcott south, but a little ways east was different. Large lights on poles were stationed in front of the Red Hook Houses. In the liquor store on Lorraine, some kind of emergency lights were in use, flashing like strobes.

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