Just back from a few hours in Red Hook. I think I have to stop going there on beautiful, sunny afternoons -- I fear my impressions may be overly optimistic based on the weather.
I spent some time today at the Justice Center, where they have moved from trash removal to demolition. The crucial issue at this point is restoring electricity to the building. While the power is out, much of our staff has been re-deployed to the courts in downtown Brooklyn, along with Judge Calabrese.
As I was touring the Justice Center, we also had crews of Center staffers delivering food and surveying public housing tenants about their medical needs. This included a team from Brownsville, in a nice bit of inter-project partnership.
After leaving the Justice Center, I visited the Red Hook branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, which is being used as a warming center for those without heat. There were about a dozen folks there reading, talking on the phone, chatting with one another. I was particularly heartened to hear that the water had been restored to the public housing development and that the hallways had been cleaned and sanitized. Still, the bottom line is that there is no power or heat in the Houses and no firm date on when they will return.
The striking thing about Red Hook at the moment is just how much activity there is. Normally, it is a pretty quiet neighborhood. But between the volunteers from across the city, the government workers who have been deployed to the area, and all of the home owners and business owners who have to clean out their buildings, there are dozens of people on streets where typically you encounter next to no one.
One such person was D___, a guy I know who lives on Van Brunt Street. He showed me his building, where the tide had completely submerged the basement and two feet of the first floor. He had succeeded in cleaning and drying out the wet areas but was frustrated because he was unable to cut the red tape necessary to get electricity back in his building. Still, he was in generally good spirits, acknowledging that his problems were "first-world" problems -- "loss of money, not loss of life." We've set up a donation page for those who would like to contribute to the restoration of the Justice Center. Click here to donate.