Ahmed Mansour with his wife and kids, after FDNY officials gave the all-clear.

Firefighters responded to calls of a potential building collapse at 2566 Ocean Avenue, as neighbors cobbled outside after the effects of a Virginia-based earthquake struck Brooklyn.

Feeling the rumbles of the earthquake this afternoon, nervous residents of the 66-unit apartment building took to the streets and called the city about concerns over their building’s structural integrity. The building was evacuated approximately six years ago by city authorities, after construction on a building next door caused cracks in the apartment building’s walls and foundations. As the building wobbled and bookshelves shook, residents didn’t think of an earthquake, they feared that a portion of the building may have given way.

“Because I had that bad experience before, I responded right away,” said resident Ahmed Mansour. “I left my job and came here.”

Firefighters eventually gave the all-clear, urging residents to return to their homes.

“They say everything is fine. Thank God,” said Mansour. “We don’t need that.”

Emergency responders and surveyors have been deployed across the city, some in response to specific complaints like those at the Ocean Avenue apartment building, while others are checking city infrastructure like bridges, tunnels and railways. A number of suspected gas leaks have caused the deployment of Hazmet personnel in various parts of the city.

So far, however, little to know damage or injuries has been recorded due to the earthquake.

UPDATE (3:07 p.m.): From NotifyNYC, “Notification issued 8/23/11 at 3:00 PM. There are no reports of major structural damage, injuries, transportation, or utility service disruptions affecting New York City at this time.”

Sheepshead Bay residents came out of their homes looking confounded  at approximately 1:54 p.m. today, as rumbles from an earthquake near Washington D.C. rattled the area.

An earthquake that measured 5.9 on the Richter scale hit the Washington D.C. area shortly before Sheepshead Bay’s residents felt the effects. The Pentagon, the Capitol, and several other public buildings have been evacuated. It’s the largest recorded earthquake to hit the area, originating in Charlottesville, VA, with tremors being felt as far north as Boston.

Here in the Bay, it was likely the first earthquake experienced by most residents. You survived unscathed. We’re very proud of you.

However, Sheepshead Bites’ Business Manager Robert Fernandez is particularly perturbed, demanding in between sobs of terror, “Where are the animals? Aren’t the animals supposed to warn us?”

He’s calmed down now, though. Don’t worry.

Meanwhile, your venerable editor Ned Berke, having lived in an earthquake zone – in a condo on the 13th floor of a building over a cliff – stood on a chair, laughed maniacally and belittled Fernandez in between gushing, “They were right! May 21, mo-fos! May 21!”

He eventually fell, but did not hurt himself.

What were you doing when the earthquake hit? How did you react? How about the people around you?

Photo by Erica Sherman

When Dee & Dee (3710 Nostrand Avenue) closed down in February after many years serving the neighborhood, we all lost a valuable place to buy a wide assortment of low-priced clothes, housewares and random crap. But now another outlet for low-priced clothes, housewares and random crap is opening up in the same spot: Family Dollar.

A reader tipped us off this week to a new sign at the location, which has been undergoing renovations for the last few weeks, saying that Family Dollar will open up soon. The North Carolina-based chain has about 7,000 stores around the nation, with five others in Brooklyn – all around Flatbush, Flatlands and Crown Heights.

We’ve previously reported on the expansion of dollar stores in the neighborhood – especially around Nostrand Avenue. The rise of dollar stores – and the swift expansion of chains like Family Dollar – mirrors a national trend in which the businesses capitalize on the recession, offering more brand named goods to thrift-minded folks.

But back to the storefront in question. We see a wall has been erected on the interior, suggesting that the storefront may be divided into multiple businesses. We’ll keep an eye on it to see what happens.

What do you think of Family Dollar coming to Sheepshead Bay? Is it one more in an already crowded field of Sheepshead Bay dollar stores?

CBS affiliates around the nation are holding “Most Valuable Blogger” competitions in their local markets, and Sheepshead Bites has found itself a finalist in New York’s Local Affairs category!

We’re not sure who nominated us, and we only found out from another contender that we were in it, but we sure do appreciate the recognition. And making the cut to be a finalist is a pretty big honor as is…

Aww, who are we kiddin’? We want to win!

Let’s show these other bloggers who’s boss and vote the hell out of this contest, Biters. You can vote up to once per day per category, meaning you can check back in tomorrow and vote again (and the day after that, and the day after that…). Then share that link with your friends and tell them to do the same.

Winning this contest will be another reminder to the city media that Sheepshead Bay has a voice, so let’s dominate.

And, hey, if we win we’ll have a party or somethin’.

CLICK HERE TO VOTE.

Do you guys and gals actually get the lyrical references I drop in the titles? Just wondering. Photo by Tinx Chan.

Sheepshead Bites wants to know what you do for a living.

Why are we asking? Well, we know a fair amount about our readers from the interactions we have with you. But we still don’t know much about your professions. And we figure this is a pretty good way to figure out how we can serve you better – by knowing what you do during the day. For example, if we find we have a lot of work-at-home freelancers, we can probably work up some good features about free wi-fi locations, or advantages to freelancing from Sheepshead Bay. If a lot of you are teachers, or union members, or doctors – et cetera, et cetera – we can dream up some cool, useful and unique resources for you.

So let us know what you do, and we’ll try and figure out a way to help you do it better.

Here, I’ll go first. I’m a journalist. Hmm… I think starting a news website might be a good resource for me.

And done! Thank you Sheepshead Bites!

See how easy that is? Your turn…

Thanks to all who came out on Friday for Sheepshead Bites Night at MCU Park (a.k.a. Cyclones stadium). Sure, the game itself got rained out (allowing you to enjoy another game at the park any time between now and August 19, 2012 – contact MCU Park for details), but we still had a great time.

Not only did we get to do most of our on-field presentation, in which we had the spectacular students from Covenant Ballet Theater of Brooklyn Dance Academy give an enjoyable pre-game show, as well as honoring St. Mark Catholic Church on their 150th Anniversary with a certificate of appreciation – but we also got to meet tons of readers on the mezzanine. In a way, we actually liked that the game was rained out; it meant throngs of fans came to wile the hours away at the Sheepshead Bites table. Sayin’ hello and sippin’ beers: that’s what it’s all about.

Keep reading and view the photo gallery.

Avid Sheepshead Bay fisherman Robert "Bobby" Norris. Source: Staten Island Advance

“Fishing is much more than fish. It is the great occasion when we may return to the fine simplicity of our forefathers.”

~Herbert Hoover

It always makes me sad when another piece of our history — the history of Sheepshead Bay — is gone to The Ages.

I was dismayed to learn, while reading through the Facebook group “You know you’re from Sheepshead Bay when……,” that Robert “Bobby” Norris, a former resident of Sheepshead Bay and an avid fisherman, passed away on Friday, according to his daughter Tara Norris Mino.

Norris was 65.

Continue Reading »

We’ve gotten word that there has been an all-hands fire on Exeter Street, just south of Oriental Boulevard in Manhattan Beach.

The fire broke out sometime after 1:00 p.m. It was confirmed by Gothamist News Map, putting the call in at 1:30 p.m.

Sheepshead Bites received a tip via Twitter, stating:

a swaem of firetrucks and ambulences are by the church next to manhattan beach. On orientalboulevard and exeter.

That church would be St. Margaret Mary Roman Catholic Church at 215 Exeter Street, one of the oldest buildings in Manhattan Beach. We’re hoping it remains undamaged by any of this.

No other information is available at this time.

This is a breaking news story and may contain inaccuracies. We will provide more information as it becomes available.

Courtesy of Koonisutra via Flickr

New York Magazine has put together a nice roundup of bribes donations Walmart has made around the city, as it attempts to cobble support together for its push to have a Brooklyn location (presumably, the Gateway Shopping Center in East New York). The big-box retailer has faced no shortage of opposition from local pols, labor advocates and small business lobbyists – which it appears it’s attempting to fend off by purchasing some goodwill.

The magazine says Walmart has given $13 million in charitable giving in New York since 2007, including $4 million towards a pet project of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and $150,000 to one of Marty Markowitz’s summer concert series.

The donations are already having an effect. Markowitz, for example, went from stating “strong opposition” to a Brooklyn Walmart in 2009 – citing their “questionable labor practices” – to saying he is not opposed to a Walmart in 2011.

New York Magazine also lists donations of $812,500 for an experimental program serving at-risk middle schoolers; $382,879 for the Food Bank for New York City; and $100,000 for restoring 25 acres of tidal wetlands in Jamaica Bay.

There’s no doubt that any number of these programs need the funding and are to the public’s betterment. But, regardless of whether you’re for or against Walmart, is it right that they can sway political support by contributing to politicians’ pet programs?