“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.