Report: Parts of Brooklyn still reeling from Sandy

The Brooklyn Recovery Fund has released an extensive report on conditions in six coastal Brooklyn neighborhoods since Superstorm Sandy.

The report found that more than a year after Sandy, many areas have not fully recovered and much still needs to be done to repair the damage and beef up Brooklyn’s resiliency for the next time.

According to the study, issued by the Brooklyn Community Foundation, the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President, and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, some Brooklyn residents continue to live on the upper floors of their homes, while others battle persistent mold and debris. In New York City Housing Authority buildings, a number of tenants continue to rely on emergency back-up boilers and regularly experience loss of heat and hot water.

In Canarsie, the number of homeowners falling behind on their mortgage payments has doubled, and foreclosures have increased. Immigrants living in illegal units have lost their homes, and rents in affected areas have skyrocketed.

Six months after the storm, 85 percent of Brooklyn businesses that applied for a loan had been denied Small Business Administration (SBA) assistance. Immigrant business owners in Sheepshead Bay paid for repairs out of pocket and continue to struggle. In Coney Island, 20 percent of business on Mermaid Avenue remain closed.

The health of communities affected by Sandy has also deteriorated due to mold, stress and the loss of resources. In the most affected areas, the rate of depression increased by 25 percent.

Sandy also proved that Brooklyn’s infrastructure was inadequate for the job: Sewage plants were overwhelmed, power and telephone systems went down, and transportation disappeared. In Gerritsen Beach, a faulty sewage system and above-ground power lines were among the most problematic infrastructural failures, and storm drains remain clogged across Brooklyn’s coastal communities today.

The report contains a detailed action guide for government agencies in each of five areas: Housing & Rebuilding; Health; Businesses & Jobs; Immigrant & Undocumented Communities and Infrastructure.

For example, recommendations in the Housing area include the removal of debris, dealing with sinkholes, replacing temporary boilers in city housing, and prioritizing Sandy-affected tenants on housing lists. Property taxes could be lowered after a disaster as well.

Solutions in the area of Health include providing mobile clinics, pre-prepared flood-related medical handouts, extended contracts for mental health and crisis-counseling programs and prolonged air testing.

Collaborators on the report “Brooklyn Communities Speak: An Action Guide for Local Decision-Makers Post Sandy” include the Red Hook Coalition, Coney Recovers, Empower Sheepshead RC, Gerritsen Beach Long Term Recovery Project, Canarsie Coalition, and Brighton Beach Housing Coalition.

To view the entire report, visit: www.brooklyncommunityfoundation.org/sites/default/files/BRF-Community-Re...