For me, Superstorm Sandy has proven to be a massive inconvenience of the most disheartening kind: my longtime neighborhood of Red Hook, Brooklyn was rocked hard by Sandy. With no power, heat, or gas for the unforeseeable future, I don’t know when or if I’ll be able to return home (this post is being written from a friend’s apartment).
I, unlike some of my neighbors, managed to dodge a massive bullet, as the floodwaters didn’t reach my actual fourth-floor walk-up apartment. Aside from the contents of my fridge, my loss of possessions is relatively minimal.
And from the waterlogged rubble, a spirited community-born recovery effort in Red Hook has emerged. Huge swaths of the historic waterfront enclave famed for its "idiosyncratic separateness" as this somewhat cliche-ridden TIME article puts it, may been wiped out by Sandy but this is one neighborhood that’s refusing to play the role of victim. Red Hook will be reborn.
When thinking about the devastating toll that Sandy's floodwaters have on on the businesses and residents of Red Hook, I try to remind myself that things could have been a lot worse. Case in point: the seaside community of Breezy Point, Queens, on the tip of the Rockaway Peninsula. During the height of the storm, much of the tight-knit neighborhood was completely leveled by a fast-moving inferno. Over 100 homes — many, in a cruel twist of fate, belonging to members of the FDNY and their families — were reduced to piles of smoldering ashes. The only word that appropriately describes the scene is "hellish." Said Mayor Michael Bloomberg after visiting the area: "To describe it as looking like pictures we have seen at the end ofWorld War II is not overstating it."
Miraculously, no lives were reportedly lost.
If you haven’t seen any of the devastating footage coming out of Breezy Point yet, please do watch the above video from ClimateDesk (hat tip to TreeHugger). And click here to find out how you can help out those impacted by the storm in Breezy Point, Red Hook, Staten Island, New Jersey, and beyond.
Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.