The Post-Sandy View From Greenpoint


After the hurricane, business as usual – almost.

Waterlogged boxes and bins pulled from the basement at the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center at the north end of Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood the day after Sandy struck New York City. Credit: KATIE AKAGI

If it weren’t for the snatches of conversation about floodwaters and fallen trees, nothing one heard or saw this morning at Ashbox, a small coffee shop near Newtown Creek in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, would have indicated that a hurricane had just passed through.

By Wednesday morning, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, most of Greenpoint was back to business as usual – except for several businesses at the neighborhood’s northern edge, along Newtown Creek.

At Greenpoint Manufacturing & Design Center (GMDC), for example, 10 feet of water flooded the basement during the storm. The center is a converted rope factory, now transformed into a home for 76 small businesses and artisan tenants, who are all without power and awaiting cleanup of the sodden basement.

“We marked it from [Hurricane] Irene,” said Jason Szrom, an engineer with Solar Energy Sytems who has working in the building for four years. “It was up about here,” said Szrom, indicating a point just below his knee – and far below the new record flood level set after Monday night. Szrom said a transformer blew sometime during Monday night’s storm, and the building is expected to be without power for weeks.

Several blocks west of Szrom’s office building, Lisa Wright and Stephanie Bowen chatted while keeping a watchful eye on a small group of children running circles around the slides and support columns at Greenpoint Playground. One of the kids sported a bulbous, bright blue jumper with orange spots on an olive-green belly – her Halloween monster disguise.

Lisa Wright (L), Stephanie Bowen (R), the blue monster and company play at Greenpoint Playground the day after the hurricane. Credit: KATIE AKAGI

Wright’s two-and-a-half year-old daughter and friends were out of school because of the storm. Bowen works for Steiner Studios, a television and film production facility housed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. She’s been off work due to the storm all week.

“I’m happy I get to spend Halloween with my daughter,” said Bowen, “but I know a lot is waiting for me at work.”

Bowen lives in a part of Greenpoint that was marked for mandatory evacuations. She said that one of her neighbor’s roofs blew off, and that houses down the street flooded, but that her house was fine.

About three blocks away, inside doors stained by waist high floodwaters, John, the owner of Kristom Woodworking, didn’t stop long enough to give his last name or an interview. He hurried between rooms, pulling waterlogged electronics into hallways.

“Interview her,” he said, and gestured to a woman helping with clean up. She said the woodworking business was at a standstill. Water had rushed into the building and fried all of Kristom’s computers and other electronics. The building somehow still had some electricity.

She said that they were still not far enough along in clean up to really assess how much damage had been done, but that things were “a real mess.”



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