NYC: 'It was like a tsunami that came into the Lower East Side'
It’s hard to believe after a window-rattling night that Maine has only suffered power outages from the Frankenstorm known as Hurricane Sandy. Even though thousands are out of power, I say “only” because it could have been much worse for Maine. Scanning CNN, the destruction to hit the east coast, most notably the New Jersey shores and New York City, has been described as “unthinkable devastation.”
This morning, with CNN reporting Mayor Bloomberg calling it New York’s “Worst Storm Ever” I decided to call my friend, Matt Murphy, who lives in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn, after reading a Facebook post in which he basically reported that after Hurricane Sandy, “New York City is totally screwed.”
Up here, we know from the news that New York City has been declared a disaster; 750,000 are without power and the death toll in NYC is currently up to 10 people. It’s hard to know what the mood is on the street minute to minute, unless you talk to someone who is right there, watching it all unfold.
The area of Park Slope where Murphy lives escaped the water damage, due to the incremental incline of the neighborhood from the epicenter of the floods. But, he said Brooklyn was not spared. Other parts of Park Slope resemble a “lumber yard.” An area severely flooded last night included Brooklyn’s most expensive neighborhood known as DUMBO, an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.
The lede photo to this story, taken last night by Julian Erhardt, another New York resident posted by Gothamist.com, shows the area close to where Murphy lives. The flooding is clearly seen. Murphy describes this area as “a giant bowl” between Water and Main Street.
When the tide hit last night, it was not only a full moon, but a record surge,” said Murphy. The city planners had anticipated a storm surge of 11 feet, he said, but the tide reaching a record 13 feet coursed over the sea walls into the low-lying streets.
According to New York Magazine, Mayor Bloomberg placed the majority of the Zone A neighborhood under mandatory evacuation, including areas of DUMBO. And even though Bloomberg was quoted as saying those who ignored the evacuation announcement were “selfish,” Murphy reported there were still people who chose to stay. “There were parts of Zone A that were in a dotted line area of presumed flooding, but a lot of people didn’t leave.” Asked if those people are now trapped in their buildings, Murphy said he thinks a lot of people were trapped last night, but that the flooding has gone down by now and they’re able to leave. He added residents who stayed in Queens, Coney Island and Lower East Side have not been as fortunate.
He’s been staying on top of what’s happening from TV news, personal phone calls to colleagues and Facebook. Murphy works at The LAND (League Artists Natural Design) Studio & Gallery in Brooklyn. And though he hasn’t been there today personally, “I heard from co-workers who have walked around the building,” he said. "Because of another subtle incline LAND didn’t get hit thankfully,” he said, though it sits only a block and a half from the flooded area of DUMBO known as Zone A.
Of the historic places Murphy says were flooded included Jane's Carousel (a $9 million dollar art project) and The Tobacco Warehouse, an architectual building for community events, facts confirmed by Twitter reports and photos. Warehouse, office and residential buildings also populate this area. At least three restaurants were flooded with about five feet of water, said Murphy.
According to an MTA report, seven subway tunnels under the East River have flooded. All transportation in NYC has been suspended indefinitely. “The subways are screwed,” said Murphy, adding that some of the tunnels got deluged with brackish salt water, which has caused damage to the subways’ electrical components. According to Murphy. “It was like a tsunami that came into The Lower East Side.”
“I’m going to go out soon and ride my bike around to check on things,” he said. This column will soon be updated with his photos.
Kay Stephens can be reached at email@example.com