A Post Sandy Update: Firsthand Accounts from Coney Island and Staten Island (With pictures)

Today I had the benefit of two firsthand accounts.  One is from a friend in Coney Island and is accompanied by pictures; while the other is from someone I met from Staten Island and may later be accompanied by pictures.  Having heard that today would be the day they would secure the crane hanging over my head in Midtown, I did not venture out till mid-afternoon.  Yes I’ve decided to declare that it was hanging directly over my head.  I’m not saying this based on any real evidence, but rather for the mild degree of drama that the statement carries with it, and since after tomorrow the crane may no longer be a story at all, I choose to give it one last moment in the forefront.

Today I wanted to go to Brooklyn.  I knew it would be difficult to get anywhere close to the spots where anything happened, but even by riding the shuttle bus I would be experiencing an inconvenience, albeit a mild one, for Brooklyn residents.  I took the train to 34th Street and 6th Avenue where I learned that the shuttle bus to Brooklyn was leaving from 34th Street and Lexington Avenue.  I walked to the shuttle bus and decided to take a ride and see where it would lead me.

Earlier in the day I had chatted online with a Facebook friend from Coney Island named Yelena.  I asked Yelena to read my piece from yesterday since I wanted to know her perspective of the events in Coney Island during these trying days.  The following is most of what she shared with me.

The night of the hurricane the alarm sirens were going off all the time. When I got out Tuesday afternoon, many cars were looted. I took many pictures but I can’t post them to my Facebook page because I only have very limited access to the Internet on my phone. If you send me your email address, I’ll email them to you.  (Click here for Yelena’s pictures).

The poor business owners on Brighton beach started to clean their stores on Tuesday and from what I have heard they had to stay there all the time to protect them from looters. On Wednesday the police sent 100 more policemen to the Brighton beach area to prevent looting. I think one liquor store on Neptune Avenue was looted right in the midst of the hurricane.

What I really find interesting is that I haven’t seen any news crews anywhere. This area has never been closed for access. People could come to us Tuesday morning with no problem. Many residents couldn’t get out, on the other hand, because their buildings, cars were flooded and the trains weren’t in service.

Thank you for offering your help. We pretty much don’t need anything besides hot water, the heating and the Internet. Our land line is also dead. I was able to get to Manhattan on Thursday and did some grocery shopping.

However, there are many older people who live closer to the water. They still have no electricity, no heating. Many have no running water at all. They can’t get out and I don’t know if anybody is doing anything to help them. Many of them won’t even be able to call for help because land telephone lines went dead and the cell phones need to be recharged.

Yelena’s words motivated me towards Brooklyn however, if there was a way to Coney Island today, I never found it.  Maybe it would have required better planning or maybe it just wasn’t possible.  I got as far as Atlantic Terminal (where I did get to see the Barclay Center for the first time).  I was on the shuttle bus at 4PM when an announcement came out saying that the shuttle buses would be suspended due to service being restored on subway lines to Brooklyn as of 3:30.  I hoped that the subway would take me deeper into Brooklyn, but alas it was not so.  I was headed back into Manhattan.

I then decided to get off the subway in downtown Manhattan.  I found myself at the Bowling Green station of the 4 & 5 train and a few minutes away from the Staten Island ferry terminal.  I went into the terminal, considered riding to Staten Island, but chose not to since I had no plan or specific place to go to.  I stayed in the terminal for a few minutes from where I took the picture you see at the top of this post.  It is a shredded American flag, apparently from the storm, with the Statue of Liberty on the left.

I left the terminal moments before a ferry arrived and managed to strike up conversation with a woman walking uptown as I was.  She was pushing her young baby in a stroller, and told me she had just come from Staten Island.

She told me that going on right now in Staten Island, not during the storm, not yesterday, but right now, was a shootout and stabbings over gasoline.  She said it was a crazy scene and it had of course scared her.  She spoke of trees that had fallen in the middle of streets blocking a number of homes at once.  She said that her power had been restored, but then told me something I had not heard till now.  They had power on Tuesday, but then there was a fire in a Con Edison plant in Queens on Tuesday night, causing them to shut down power in her area again on Wednesday.  Just as she said this a Con Edison worker passed by and in a tongue-in-cheek way asked, “What about Con Ed?”  To which she replied, a little less tongue-in-cheek and without hesitation, “you suck”.  She too indicated she would be sending me some pictures to post.  If they come in I will make them available.

I then went home and found out that the piece of the crane that had been hanging over my head was more than likely secure and that my street might be opening as early as tomorrow.  It’s a good thing.  I’m getting tired of carrying around my Verizon bill.  There’s another storm possibly in the forecast for Wednesday.  Let’s hope significant actions are taken by then to help the people who need it the most.

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