Outside Media Glare, Brooklyn Coast Hit Hard

Photo by: Jarrett Murphy
Part of the Coney Island Beach, relocated inland by Sandy.

News reports have focused on Hurricane Sandy's devastation in New Jersey and Breezy Point. But from Coney Island to Brighton Beach to Sheepshead Bay, Brooklynites are struggling with the storm's impact.

By: Jarrett Murphy

At points along the path that traces the northern shore of Sheepshead Bay one can smell the remnants of the fires the engulfed one hundred homes far across the water in Breezy Point. But there are ample signs of the impact of Sandy on the Brooklyn side.

In downtown Brooklyn, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace and Midwood on Thursday morning life looked perfectly normal, except for the gates closing the entrances to Prospect Park and the heavier than usual traffic on Ocean Avenue. There was a near constant sound of sirens.

Only south of Avenue U or so are there outward signs of the storm in the form of a few uprooted trees, then more. Near Coney Island Hospital there's a heavy din of equipment from the Con Ed crews working to restore power, and pumps drain the basements of high-rises nearby.

Sand coats the sidewalk and whips in the wind several blocks away from Coney Island Beach, giving the roadway under the elevated M train a kind of terra cotta hue. The sand's been gathered in huge mounds just off the boardwalk. “Incredible,” says a young man on a bike, shaking his head as he looks at the transplanted beach.

In Manhattan Beach and Brighton Beach, streets are covered in sand and mud and, frequently, small rivers fed by the pumps ejecting water from basements and, in some cases, first floors. Sidewalks are overwhelmed with belongings removed from the wet rooms. Some of the items appear salvageable, like the pristine set of blonde-wood cabinets set out on a sidestreet off Oriental Boulevard. Others–books, cushions, clothes–look like a loss.

Some businesses–a laundromat here, a nail salon there–seem to have ripped out everything from the interior and stacked it on the street's edge.

Along the edge of Sheepshead Bay, Sandy defied sandbags to flood a house where a woman on Thursday morning was neatly hanging linens over a stairwell railing to dry them. Nearby the water knocked over a stone wall along the length of a yard and lifted a sport utility vehicle onto the curve. Across the bay, the Ocean Avenue Bridge is closed down and a tattered sailboat rests against it. Two huge trees have collapsed onto the edges of the holocaust memorial on the western end of Sheepshead Bay.

As the Belt Parkway moves east toward Queens, a huge traffic jam piles up. Bikers on the path turn back toward Brooklyn, saying there's a flood ahead. It turns out there are lines on both the westbound and eastbound sides of Belt for the gas station on the median.