Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Red Hook, a day later

It was a sad walk. We took it yesterday afternoon, after 4pm. Just after low tide.

There were other hurricane tourists, too, cycling through the weird blue light of early evening.

I did not take the pictures I wanted to. I could not point my camera at people carrying their water-destroyed possessions out of their ground floor homes and basements, and adding to the pile on the sidewalks. I could not even take pictures of the countless generators pumping water from every second building. I felt like a vulture. If I carried a press badge, maybe. But I don't.

The water taxi parking lot was a disaster.

Poor little Mike Davis.

 The water had raised the long wooden dock right above its mooring poles, which it had slipped, before tilting akilter.

 Some studio and warehouse occupants had sealed well. Most had not.

Some golden rod survived the flood.

Fairway was shut tight and jettisoning dozens of shopping carts of food. Cereals, fresh meat, you name it. 

They are right on the water.

The president's escort flew by.

And as we walked home the soggy task of cleaning up continued. I could not imagine the devastation at Breezy Point, out past Fort Tilden - where so many homes burned on the sand bar. Vince has visited - or tried to - it was literally fenced in, right down  to the beach, and riddled with security gates: it is an anomalous series of communities in New York City, 99 percent white. Some of it is now quite black. I don't mean that glibly, either. It just is. [*Correction:  it was Sea Gate, another gated community opposite Breezy Point, on Coney Island; see Frank's comment.]

Fire trucks and ambulances blocked Van Brunt Street, where we had walked just an hour before, past men pumping water from a basement.

Everywhere there was the smell of leaking heating oil, of generator exhaust,  the coughing of the little engines, the gushing of water from thin pipes, the slopping sound of wet belongings slapping onto the pavement.


  1. Wind and water are such destructive forces - pity the poor people left in the aftermath.

  2. everyone must set to work. What to do?

  3. Marie, I think Vince was at sea gate, not breezy point- a semi gated community. Whatever that means. Well it means you can pass thru to the NP at the end.

  4. So glad you're both alright. Well, and Don Estorbo, of course, but I always had the sense he could commandeer a passing ship at will in such events.

  5. my heart aches at the ruin. it is so easy to write off hurricanes since they are so capricious, but this is why we cant do that. am glad you are ok, but sick at the plight of the city, that i have so recently begun to love. thinking of you ...

  6. Water always wins.

  7. We in New Orleans send you our sympathy and encouragement. Angels you will never know are sending you hope and help right now. Stay strong and work together for everyone's sake.

  8. Hello,
    Thank you for your lovely blog and incisive, sometimes lyrical, comments/instructions about gardening, cooking and life, including this current disaster.
    Thank you for not posting pictures of people hauling their damaged belongings out in Red Hook. The other pictures were hard enough and anything more would be indecent.

    I'm not sure what I want to say except I've enjoyed your blog as a lurker for some six months now. I've learned and been encouraged from it. We have a backyard near Brooklyn College where we grow tomatoes, roses, figs and herbs. When I read about how much more variety you get from your much smaller space it inspired us to do more with our space( though we are having fried green tomatoes tonight, your green tomato curry is on the horizon- this tomato season was insane!).

    Thank you!
    Deirdre, lurker no more

  9. Have read many accounts of this disaster, Marie, and you capture more than anyone the stark human impact of this unbelievable disaster. I can hear all the way down here those discarded wet clothes slapping against the concrete, and there could not possibly be a more despairing sound.


    "For a season this pain must endure,
    I shall sigh more often than smile
    Till Time shall work me a cure."

  10. So sad - for now . Stay strong everyone x

  11. I agree about the photo taking. It seemed much too personal. We were pretty hard hit here in beautiful downtown jersey city and while I did take pictures, I could not of the flooded apartments on the street level. We are a neighborhood of brownstones with many homes having ground level apartment. Our street was fairly lucky we did not see the street flood just our basements so while we finally have power many do not have heat or hot water. Several people on the the block have flagged down Plumbing trucks to help light up their hot water heaters and furnaces.

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