Straight through the tunnel into Manhattan …or back. No more excuses for not showing up to work.
The Halloween parade going off as scheduled is indicative of how quickly most of Long Island City has returned to normal, and I suspect that by the time the NYC Marathon winds through Vernon Boulevard, most of the residents travails will be concentrated on the next days commute. The Gantry Park workers have fully cleaned up the park, and other than a few small odd signs it looks like nothing ever occurred there, even the piers look untouched. Murray Park has a large tree down right in the middle of it and all cordoned off. Yet despite posting signs that the park is closed they have opened all the gates and yesterday kids were in the playground and on the sports field kicking soccer balls with their parents who stayed home from work. There has even been growth in the last two days, as construction workers have been fully present at the new TF Cornerstone project on Center Boulevard, and also are close to finishing the walls on the adjacent new elementary school.
Of course there are still omnipresent reminders of the storm. All the reports out of the Powerhouse, Foundry, and Yard are a sad counterweight to how easily most other people fared in LIC. Now, per a comment here earlier, comes word that The Murano had five feet of water in the lobby and will not have power for another 7-10 days. Also, the two main subway arteries for the southern half of LIC, the 7 train and the E train, are still unable to get people into Manhattan. This means that after Daylight Savings Time occurs Saturday night, the long walk home from the F and N trains will be in the dark, and the walk to them will now be in the light. Finally there are the trees. In one respect LIC was very lucky in that they did not cause the havoc in terms of direct damage and power outages, that they did in the suburbs. On the other hand they are a reminder that some things will be gone forever due to this storm, or at least for our lifetimes. I wrote about the damage in Shady Park, which has been well documented and now has a Facebook page attempting to find what I surmise will not be a very easy solution. Yet it is with regret that I must report that the iconic weeping willows hovering over the back of the LIC Bar, have had their locks considerably shorn, and one of the three has been completely cut down. So even though most of LIC came away from this storm in good shape, and things are working their way back to normal, nothing stays the same forever.
“We got crushed, Crushed” those were the first words from the colleague who sits next to me upon entering the office early this morning. He lives in Oceanside, on the south shore of Long Island, and if one is watching the news, it is a fairly typical response from anyone who lives on or near the water. His anecdotes consisted of boats on streets, cars in water, and jellyfish(literally) swimming in the living room. Similar stories have been all over the news coming from the Jersey coastline, including our counterpart urban cities Hoboken and Jersey City, as well as Red Hook, the Rockaways, and of course Breezy Point. Away from the coast, the main problem consists of fallen trees and the damage they have done directly to houses, and indirectly to powerlines and the resulting blackouts these have caused. It is with these stories as a background, that my assessment of what has befallen LIC can only be termed as very, very fortunate. It is one of the few places on the water that does not look like Hiroshima.
Now, as with any general assessment, there are many, many exceptions. I wrote about Shady Park and the long term consequences, and while the photos are dramatic and sad, let’s face it, the park is a communal loss and not indicative of the huge losses and headaches inflicted on alot of individuals. Let’s start with Center Boulevard, where almost everyone was inconvenienced, but most did not even lose power, unlike say everyone south of 39th Street. Amazingly, Food Cellar was open Monday early in the day, and yesterday as well, with about 70% of the shelves stocked. Last night there were even trucks making deliveries. Gantry Park, after massive flooding, was also left relatively unscathed. On the other hand, the people in The Powerhouse and The Yard, who had their lobbies completely flooded Monday night, lost and have not regained electricity since then. The other group that really suffered are the local businesses, both on and off the river. If one’s home gets two feet of brackish water, everything is ruined, but since so many residences are on the second floor and above in LIC, most damage seems inconsequential. Unfortunately, most businesses are on the ground floor, and many in the neighborhood got hit very hard. Typical of this is “Little Ones”, a nursery school at the base of the CityLights Building:
They had two feet of water fill the school, where the majority of the items the children use are kept. All but a few cabinets were soaked and the floors almost removed. The new Pre-K on 5th street has major and massive damage. This past Friday they had just completed the final details and were anticipating the final approvals of the TR and TR8 so that the Temporary C of O could be given. The water level inside the space is four and one half feet with none of it leaving without pumping out. The power in the space is gone.
On Vernon Boulevard similar damage occurred as many basements flooded. Driving past Manducatis Rustica yesterday there were about sixty large black garbage bags piled up, probably all spoilage, not to mention any machinery that may have been housed down there. Lest one thinks “Oh no problem, insurance will pay for it all” I think the reality is much different after considering deductibles, inability to get flood-specific insurance, and the enormous hassles of dealing with all of this reconstruction and attempts at normalization at the same time every other business is clamoring for similar services, all whilst trying to simultaneously run customer oriented businesses(see Little Ones example above).
In summary, while Long Island City in general fared well, it is very important to keep in mind those in our city who have been hit very hard by the storm, that is what being a community is all about.
Neither wind nor rain, nor flooding can keep the ghosts and goblins …and barbies and superheroes from their appointed day. According to Alicia Gljiva of Little In The City and much to the relief of parents, the LIC Halloween Parade is going on as scheduled, today, October 31st, meet at the gantries in Gantry Park at 4:45. Also, while most residents in Zone A suffered little more than inconvenience, it should be acknowledged that alot of the businesses on Vernon Boulevard were hit very hard by the street flooding, so a special kudos goes out to them as well for making this happen. Finally, it was requested to please bring your own trick or treat bag.
Waters recede, cars are replaceable, children and dogs eventually can be walked, but some things are lost forever. Andrew’s Grove Playground on 49th Avenue, universally known to all in LIC as Shady Park, has lost several of its big beautiful trees. In addition to the grandeur of the trees, the park was the only one in Long Island City that provided a respite from the hot and sunny summer days. Thus, it will not be until long after the elevators and electricity are restored, the people return, the stores are restocked, the clean up is over, and the heat returns next summer, that we will realize what we have lost.