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Letter from Coney Island

November 7, 2012 | by

I spent the night in Coney Island and there are no mermaids on Mermaid Avenue right now, but the machinery of New York’s recovery from Hurricane Sandy is everywhere to be seen. The streets teem with Con Edison and Verizon workers fixing overhead wires. One out of three buildings has some kind of light—from either portable generators or power lines. Relief workers, professional and volunteer, hand out goods to needy residents. A FEMA distribution center in a church parking lot includes a bank of Chase ATMs that shine like blue and white corporate beacons. Police cars sit, blue and red lights flashing, at almost every intersection, on the look out for looters and other bad actors. The weather remains on everyone’s mind—another storm is predicted today, less severe than Sandy but not insignificant, with a four- or five-foot swell. Ordinarily, that would not breach the seawall, but the fear is that the damage from Sandy has left this neighborhood much more vulnerable to another flood. In fact, the FEMA center and the temporary police headquarters packed up and moved in anticipation.

Coney Island, the sharp southwestern corner of Brooklyn, was hit hard by Sandy. Read More »