Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sandy Still Hangs Around the Neighborhood

When I returned to New York City this week, I walked around our Lower Manhattan neighborhood to get reacquainted.  Grocery store, flower shop, pizza place, park, Starbucks. . . all as I had left them.  Unfortunately, there was another part of the neighborhood - two blocks east - which was also unchanged. Two blocks closer to the East River, two blocks closer to Hurricane Sandy's devastation.  South Street Seaport.

This time last year tourists were hopping off double decker buses, spilling onto the Seaport's cobbled streets with money to spend.

 A new skirt at J. Crew,

             pair of shoes at Aerosoles

      jeans at Gap,

followed by a beer at Heartland Brewery, maybe some tacos at Red's.   

Now, all closed.  Closed for the last five months.

As I toured the largely deserted streets, I thought about the people who had lost their jobs, business, entire livelihoods.  Where are they working now?  How are they paying their bills?

Perhaps employees with the big name stores were transferred to other locations throughout the city.  But what of the private business owners?

I walked further down Water Street to check on one of our favorite restaurants, the Bridge Café, "the oldest drinking establishment in New York City," dating back to 1794.  Sitting at a window table, Drew and I would look up at the Brooklyn Bridge and imagine the city in earlier times. The bridge must stare down, now, on her companion of 130 years and wonder when she will ever come back to life.

The Restricted Use sign remains on the front door.

Pipes are still exposed on the street out front.

But hope remains.

One of many customers on the Café's email list, I received a message this week. "Our temporary electricity is up, most of the debris and rubbish wood from the basement has been removed to make way for fresh timber.  There is still much to do, but thanks to all the support, the building that houses Bridge Café will get its new support as quickly as possible." Their donations page shows a watery scene of the Café in the midst of the hurricane, water that deluged the foundation and destroyed all the refrigeration units, stoves and ovens.

Although Sandy's victims are no longer in the news, they continue to exist.  Most are nameless to the rest of us who endured a week without electricity, but have moved on.  However, Adam Weprin and his Bridge Café family are still struggling to rebuild.  We can help them with donations and by being the first in line when they reopen.  After all, they're our neighbors.

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