Archive for the tag 'hurricane aftermath'

Source: Daniel Schwen via Wikimedia Commons

For many of us, Hurricane Sandy was a wake up call. The storm smashed our businesses, flooded our homes and disrupted our lives, showing how fragile we all are so close to the sea. While scientists, engineers and residents all grapple with questions concerning the future of the city and how to best protect it, politicians and real estate developers are going full speed ahead in developing expensive real estate projects in vulnerable flood zones.

A story in the IBO web blog details the plans, the costs and the risks facing these projects in the face of a changing environment brought on by the reality of climate change.

While acknowledging that City Hall, led by Mayor Bloomberg, have put the science of climate change and its impact on the city front and center, in the form of the 2011 report Vision 2020: New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, the city has given the go ahead to multi-million dollar projects right in the middle of Zone A evacuation areas.

Such projects include a $500 million dollar complex on the North Shore of Staten Island, which will feature the world’s largest Ferris wheel. Locally, the city approved an even bigger investment for Coney Island. City Hall rezoned the area to allow for more housing, hotels and a brand new amusement park. The city also wants to pump $400 million into the area to upgrade the sewers, acquire new land and improve the lighting and boardwalk.

While IBO notes that the city is making an effort to meet the guidelines and codes laid out by the Federal Emergency Agency, they might not be be enough in the face mega-storms that may become the norm in the coming future. Citing Yale University’s Environment 360 website:

“The storm easily overwhelmed many of the relatively minor adaptations that New York had already put in place.”

For example, Brooklyn Bridge Park, where another large development project is planned, was created with what are called “soft edges.” These are supposed to help reduce the force of waves and accommodate rising tidal levels. While these edges may work in many instances, they were no match for Sandy, which swamped the park and sent water lapping at the structure housing the newly installed carousel.

America is known for racing as fast as the forces of commerce will take her, especially in the world of real estate, but such speed may need to be tempered in this new world where Mother Nature’s power trumps progress. The question remains as to how many lessons we will have to learn before we fully heed the limits the natural world lays before us.

In what hopes to be another positive step for recovery, Mayor Bloomberg announced a new $5.5 million grant matching program aimed at getting small businesses bowled over by Hurricane Sandy back on their feet.

The grant program, funded by $500,000 from the Partnership for New York City and $5 million from the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, will be run by the New York Business Development Cooperation. According to the Mayor’s press release,

The matching grants are designed to provide additional financial assistance for local businesses already seeking low-interest loans through the City’s existing Emergency Loan Fund…The new matching grants of up to $10,000 will be administered by the New York Business Development Corporation and will be available to New York City businesses in all five boroughs that have been displaced from their workplace for three weeks and are already seeking emergency loans from the City’s existing program. They are designed to provide critical supplemental assistance to what is being provided through the low-interest loans, and will be capped at no more than the amount the business receives in the loans.

The Mayor expressed his aims with the new program stating, “The capital provided through this program will help businesses purchase supplies, make repairs, and get back up and running.” In a letter to his constituents, local Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz joined the Mayor in expressing the importance of this program, citing the weakened shape much of Sheepshead Bay business community is still in,

“While some stores are back in business, there are many that remain shuttered, a sad testament to the unpredictable force of nature. For these businesses, today was another day of cleaning and rebuilding, getting rid of what’s unsalvageable and hoping for better days ahead.

If you are a small business owner looking more information on qualifying for loans or accessing donations click here.

Source: Antonio Martínez López / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: Last week, I wrote that fewer than 50 people showed up at the Brooklyn fare hike hearing, held the same day as the nor’easter, which possibly explains the low turnout. However, how do you also account for the low turnouts in Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens?

Approximately 120 people, including myself, attended the Manhattan hearing, held in an auditorium that could have accommodated at least 10 times the number of participants. Only approximately 30 attended the Bronx hearing. The Queens hearing was so sparsely attended, that there was a break before the 8:00 p.m. concluding time to allow for more speakers to arrive.

Even the elected officials seemed to boycott these hearings. In the Bronx, only Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz of Riverdale spoke. In the Manhattan, former mayoral aspirant Scott Stringer — who has now decided to enter the race for NYC Comptroller instead — testified. This is a marked contrast to the 2010 service cut hearings, which were so widely attended by the public and elected officials that many intending speakers, such as Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo, left after two or three hours waiting their turn. That Brooklyn hearing concluded at 11:30 p.m. So what happened this time?

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The Mazel School, located on the corner of Neptune Avenue and Brighton Sixth Street, was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. The storm ravaged the school’s structure, equipment, educational materials and religious artifacts.

Flooding wrecked the entire first floor, which houses administrative rooms and classes for grades K through 3. Computers were destroyed, books were lost, and windows were shattered. Also lost were irreplaceable drawings, paintings, and projects, which gave the school’s classrooms unique personalities.

The video above is a montage of photographs from the school’s devastation providing a link to donate funds in order to expedite the institution’s recovery. You can also donate by clicking here.


Photo by Erica Sherman

THE COMMUTE: If you did not attend the Brooklyn Transit Fare Hike Hearing held at the Marriott Hotel in Downtown Brooklyn last Monday because of the nor’easter, you have another chance. Another hearing will be held in Manhattan tomorrow evening from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Registration begins at 4:00 p.m. You also can pre-register on line here.

The Brooklyn hearing should have been rescheduled. Seniors and the disabled should not have been expected to brave the nor’easter, especially without full subway service. The MTA did not care, however. Fewer than 50 people showed up, one of the lowest turnouts ever. “I didn’t hear anyone calling for not having the election,” MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said. “We have to continue. We have to move forward.”

Last week I complimented Chairman Lhota on how well the MTA handled Hurricane Sandy and how well the agency works in times of crises. They were even considerate enough to provide two days of free fares. Well it looks like the crisis is over as far as the MTA is concerned, because it’s back to business as usual. A typically heartless MTA was unconcerned that residents in Sea Gate and Gerritsen Beach, who had lost their homes, had higher priorities than to brave a nor’easter in order to attend a hearing right now.

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Arbuz owners and staff cleaning off the furniture just days after the storm.

THE BITE: The Bite’s been laying low as Sheepshead Bay struggles to recover from Hurricane Sandy. With so many still without power or heat, it seems a bit insensitive to write about a newly discovered food dish. Now’s the time to help our neighbors rebuild.

Many of our restaurants and food mongers who came out for this year’s A Taste of Sheepshead Bay are still recovering and some are already back in business. Please do your best to help support the businesses that support Sheepshead Bites and the community. Without their support we wouldn’t be able to bring you our coverage of the neighborhood. No one else provides the local news when you need it,  like Sheepshead Bites.

Rovshan Danilov, the owner of Arbuz, put it best. “We need Sheepshead Bay back. We need the businesses to return. We need the customers back. We need the landlords to understand and work with the small businesses of the Bay.” We’re all in this together.

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Damage wrought to Manhattan’s South Ferry train station, which was completely submerged from the storm surge. Source: Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

THE COMMUTE: It is not too often that I compliment the MTA for a job well done. Regular readers of this column know most of my commentary toward the MTA usually is negative, but not this time. First, they did a tremendous job protecting the equipment from flooding by moving subways and buses to higher ground before the storm, as well as other protective measures to prevent damage to rolling stock and equipment. Then they worked ‘round the clock to remove standing water, clear debris, and check every foot of the system to ensure it was safe for service to return. That certainly was a monumental task. I just hope everyone doesn’t forget the storm in six months when elected officials start crying about MTA overtime. Overtime is not a bad thing in times such as these.

I spent nearly 25 years working for the MTA and saw firsthand what many of the problems were. However, this is not the time to discuss them. Suffice it to say that my co-workers would often compare the MTA, specifically New York City Transit, to a dysfunctional family. Squabbling between departments hinder many tasks from being completed efficiently. Those are during normal times, but not when there is a crisis. During those times, the MTA usually excels.

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From Notify NYC…

Notification issued 10/30/12 at 2:00 PM.  All NYC East River bridges are open but please stay off the roads and allow emergency personnel the opportunity to restore essential city services.  All MTA bridges except the ones in the Rockaways are open.  For updates on mass transit services, visit NYC public parks will be closed until further notice. Due to call volume, please report down trees or property damage using 311 online at  Only use 911 for emergencies. For the latest information on New York City governmentservices visit or NYC OEM’s Severe Weather page at

Buses will return beginning at 5:00 p.m. today, but they will be running on a Sunday schedule. More transit information is available below.

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Photo by Rovshan Danilov

Sheepshead Bay Road and Voorhies Avenue.

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