Friday, November 2, 2012

Red Hook, Before & After

Gareth and I wander the Red Hook area of Brooklyn.  Most of the area behind Ikea is in tact, though the water taxi service isn't running due to shifting in the dock ramps, and the absence of the colorful Ikea flags shouts loudly.  

As we walk further along towards the Warehouse, buses and grocery store, evidence of the hurricane increases.  Increases in fact, with every step we take.

From a boat tilting on its side next to the cobblestone street, to boards missing from the fence, to the still-damp water line along the stone buildings, scattered remnants of the storm accost us.  

When we turn the corner to the artist's studios, the rows of black, metal doors that had so brightly gleaned just last week, now stand lilting amidst a mass of debris, twisted off their hinges.  Large garbage bins are piled high with debris, and rugs and clothes are strung along the boardwalk in an attempt to dry them.  Here are the studios of artists and the offices of small businesses, perched directly in front of the Bay, taking the full brunt of the  flooding waters.

As we make our way towards the Brooklyn Bridge Park, street after street of businesses and families belongings spill out on to the sidewalk.  Furniture, toys, food, computers, clothes, appliances - all damaged, waterlogged, destroyed.  Kids clutch their bikes, while their parents and neighbors talk, sharing stories of the storm.  

I hear three older women, wearing yellow work gloves and sweeping out a basement, "I looked out the door and saw the water was at the bottom step so I thought okay, I have a couple of hours to get my shit together.  I went to the bathroom, brushed my teeth and when I came back out, the water was rushing underneath the front door." She continued, laughing, "I'm glad I brushed my teeth since we don't got no water now,".

We keep walking, on and on, past street corners of locals sweeping and mopping and pumping water, up and down the steps to their basements they trudge, like worker ants but instead of foraging for food, they forage for any salvageable pieces of their lives. 

 We pass overflowing dumpsters and  the heavy smell of gas and oil assaults the air as the gaping doors of garages perch open, offering views of mechanics bent behind the hoods of buses, cars and trucks, the engines soaked, dead.  

There is no sharing of stories here, no light brevity to pass the time. These men, these artisans of the automotive world, working tirelessly, their dirt-smudged faces lined with worry, defeat and exhaustion.  Wiping grease on to their stained overalls, they move from car to toolbox, toolbox to car, a mechanic's dance across a sullied dancefloor, though I'm sure they'd all rather sit this one out.

Here are images of Red Hook.  The ones on the left were shot last week and the ones in the middle and on the right were shot two days ago:


gailo said...


Taztally said...

Moving descriptions
I esp like the dance floor mechanics

Christina Whiting said...

I agree.

Christina Whiting said...

Thanks for the feedback. I'm having a difficult time sharing the emotions I feel as I walk through the devastated areas of the city. I think I'm in a bit of shock, witnessing so much destruction. It's alright, I don't judge where I am internally, but instead, allow the process to unfold. Thanks Taz.