Holy Horsepucky. To view the after effects of the storm from the internets is one thing. Up close, it's a damn catastrophe. Yesterday a friend and I rode bikes down to Sheepshead Bay and Brighton Beach and Coney Island. I'd seen pictures from Red Hook, which seems to have a pretty excellent online presence that is able to articulate needs - Red Hook Recovers. It's a full-on sh*tshow there of course, but you get the sense that Brownstone Brooklyn is capable of sharing the news and helping in a semi-organized fashion. Elsewhere, less so.
Basically as we rode the ever-so-slight downward incline from Prospect Park to Brighton and Coney, the devastation became more pronounced. By the time you get to Sheepshead, every curbside is full of basement-discarded debris, downed trees and telephone lines, and electricity becomes scarce. I can only imagine the unprotected Rockaways look way worse. In fact, I just caught this Youtube video and cried. The Rockaways had come so far in recent years, becoming NYC's Riviera, with new construction and thriving businesses where it was once an eerie seaside ghost-town when I moved here 20+ years ago. My family enjoyed the recently reconstructed boardwalk and trendy concessions and beautiful beach many times this past summer. Gone, gone, gone...whole pieces of boardwalk have been swept into city streets.
But reports out of the Rockaways, Staten Island, and low-lying tidal flood areas of Brooklyn like Gerritsen, Bergen, Mill Basin, Manhattan Beach - not to mention Queens and the completely ravaged Jersey Shore - suggest that we are living through a (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime tragedy effecting hundreds of thousands of lives and livelihoods. The effects will likely take years to recover from, and like Katrina before it, we may not recognize our region once the work is completed. It's that severe. I mean, if a parking lot of school buses looks like this:
For those of you like me who haven't a car, it would appear that bicycling to volunteer spots would be a good option. Or finding neighbors who are making a trip. And bringing non-perishables and washed, warm clothing, and batteries and baby food and diapers seems a reasonable alternative to heaving and ho-ing. But if you haven't had a chance to help and are feeling helpless because of the ENORMOUS lines for fuel, or childcare needs, or infirmity, or work, or stress, or whatever, don't feel bad like I've been feeling. There will likely be weeks and months of work to do, and like Katrina, communities might begin to feel forgotten even more than they do now.
Here's a local place to bring stuff that's within walking distance - the firehouse on Cortelyou. Unfortunately our beloved Q seems to be among the last trains to get up and running, though MTA is now saying it's running between Kings Highway and Atlantic, so maybe we CAN get to Cortelyou, or 7th Ave, where Temple Beth Elohim seems to be cooking with gas in the relief department. Last night I noted that the B41 seems to be running extra buses to handle the slack from the Q.
Of course, money is needed by relief organizations all over. But one thing I notice is that our stores are up and running, selling many of the goods that have been hard to get elsewhere. So perhaps this is a good time to raid the 99cent stores that sometimes incur the wrath of local residents for their ubiquity. Their mountains of dry goods could very well be a lifeline right now!
Feel free to share your thoughts, suggestions, and whatever else here!
The Q at Parkside
News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.