Surveying the Damage at Red Hook and Gowanus

Brooklyn is already hard at work cleaning up.

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Sarah Goodyear

The neighborhoods of Gowanus and Red Hook in Brooklyn, both very close to where I live, were in the evacuation zone for Sandy. On Tuesday morning, residents and business owners came out of their homes to survey the damage. Everywhere, people were already working to clean up – pumping out basements, piling debris for garbage pickup, and sweeping leaves and branches off the sidewalk. Some were there just to see how the place had fared in the storm.

As I rode my bike around the neighborhood, checking for damage, I felt the way you do after you’ve been in a car wreck: a bit numb, a bit dazed. Feeling to make sure that all your parts are still there, and not irretrievably broken.

The very top image, above, shows the Gowanus Canal on Tuesday morning. The Gowanus is a Superfund site that often is further contaminated by sewage overflow during heavy rainfall. During Sandy, its waters spread a block or more beyond its banks, leaving a trail of debris.

Over at the Red Hook waterfront, a pleasure boat washed up just down the street from Ikea:

No one seemed to know why this bus in a parking lot near the Gowanus Canal burned during the hurricane. On Tuesday, Its carcass attracted lots of photographers:

Random signs of Sandy’s destruction were everywhere in Red Hook:

People inside the flood zone near the Gowanus, clearly demarcated by the debris line, were cleaning up by Tuesday morning:

In Red Hook, a ferry dock rode the still powerful swells:

The Fairway grocery store, part of a local chain that started in Manhattan, has been a symbol of the neighborhood’s upward mobility.

It sits right on the water in a converted warehouse, with apartment on the floors above.

The area around Fairway remained badly flooded Tuesday morning.

Oil slicks are nothing unusual on the heavily polluted Gowanus Canal, but in the storm’s aftermath they seemed particularly sinister. The air was so heavy with the smell of petroleum that I felt ill after a half hour or so in the area:

The Beard Street Warehouses on the Red Hook waterfront are home to many artists’ studios. On Tuesday morning, art supplies and other debris littered the waterfront walk.

High winds near the Gowanus Canal peeled apart metal gates strip by strip.

Trees and tree limbs were down everywhere. This majestic old specimen near the Red Hook Pool was completely uprooted.

Bright and early on Tuesday morning, a construction worker was ready to get busy cleaning up damaged scaffolding at a building site in Carroll Gardens. When I said the impact of Sandy reminded me of 9/11, he told me he had been working on the 46th floor of one of the towers that day.

About the Author

  • Sarah Goodyear has written about cities for a variety of publications, including Grist and Streetsblog. She lives in Brooklyn.