The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘aftermath

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in yesterday’s posting, an effort was made to get out and survey the various parts of the Newtown Creek and her tributaries which are normally focused upon at this, your Newtown Pentacle. Luckily, a friend- Hank the Elevator Guy– offered to drive me around. This simplified my life immensely and allowed me to cover several of the rather further flung sections which one would normally have to walk to.

Pictured above, for instance, are workers pumping out the Queens Midtown Tunnel on the corner of Vernon and Borden.


Along both Center and Vernon Boulevards I visited businesses that experienced significant flooding damage as a result of Hurricane Sandy. In an effort to help them recover and reopen. I will be delivering FEMA Disaster Assistance forms to businesses. This information will help those affected on their way toward a full recovery.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This post will concern what was witnessed along Borden Avenue, and subsequent postings for the next few days will highlight other sections of the Newtown Creek. All along Borden, a flurry of activity was underway, and nearly every street level door was opened and featured a flexible pipe carrying water out to the curb. The good news is that Long Island City seems to have rolled up its sleeves and is getting back to work, something which will act as a “force multiplier” for those sections of the City which weren’t so lucky.


A storm surge that flooded “hundreds of properties” with Newtown Creek’s water carries intense economic and environmental repercussions, advocates warned.

“All waterfront properties took water, hundreds of properties,” said the Newtown Creek Alliance’s director Kate Zidar after surveying the scene by the highly polluted creek Tuesday. “The standing water and residue that came from the creek should not be considered clean.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Borden Avenue Bridge, as you’d imagine, survived the hurricane in apparently fine fettle, although the lots surrounding it showed signs of flooding and wash outs. WCBS, today, reported that Newtown Creek breached its bulkheads in LIC flooding the surrounding area- including the Midtown Tunnel.

Based on what I’ve seen and heard here though, the surge was as severe in LIC as it was over in residential Greenpoint over in Brooklyn.


Sandy Flooding Impacts Waterfront Properties on Newtown Creek

During the peak of the storm, Newtown Creek flooded throughout Zones A, B and C, and some waterfront areas experienced several feet of water. Luckily, waters receded quickly for the most part. Check out our photos from the storm, and our brief recap from Wednesday. If you are looking to volunteer with cleanup, send us an email at

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Unfortunately there was quite a bit of petroleum in the water, as evinced by not just olfactory evidence, but the presence of a rainbow sheen on the water. Instruction offered by officials of the DEC in the past has opined that the presence of such multicolored refraction indicates a fresh spill of “product”. Quite obviously, however, the sheer number of submerged automobiles and home heating oil tanks in the greater New York area means that there are literally tens of thousands of “non point” sources for such pollution.


According to the Office of Response and Restoration at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard had requested scientific support from NOAA’s Emergency Response Division for three separate oil spills in Arthur Kill, as well as “reports of several orphan containers, and many potential hazmat targets.”

The so-called “products of concern” include 8,300 barrels — or about 349,000 gallons — of diesel, bio-diesel and slop oil, according to NOAA.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of the smell, the ineffable odor of raw sewage was omnipresent, also an expected consequence of the disaster. As mentioned in prior postings, your humble narrator has grown quite inured to the smell over the years, and it was pointed out by Hank the Elevator Guy as his eyes began to water. Such inability to perceive environmental factors is known as “adaptation”, which is something I think we are all going to be getting familiar with in the coming months and years.


·Tap water is safe to drink.

·Do not use generators or grills indoors. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious threat when these devices are used indoors. They should only be used outside and kept away from windows and vents. Everyone should possess and use battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms. Test the batteries if possible.

·If someone experiences sleepiness, dizziness, headaches, confusion, weakness, or if the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, they should immediately seek fresh air and call the poison control center at 212–POISONS (212-764-7667). They can also call 911, since poisoning is life threatening.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The water in Dutch Kills was actually quite active, but it was still fairly windy when these shots were taken. Under normal circumstance, this tributary of Newtown Creek is an unbroken mirror- surreal. There were tons of “floatables” in the water, flotsam and jetsam and wind blown trash and debris. I didn’t witness many birds, other than a seagull (a bird which is not commonly observed at the Creek, they like Astoria Park on Hell Gate, don’t ask me why) which was loudly announcing itself.

The chemistry in the air, which as mentioned was tainted by sewage, smelled not unlike the shop floor of any mid sized automobile mechanic.


SAVE THE DATE! Assemblyman Joe Lentol and District Dog will be partnering for a hurricane relief event on Sunday November 11th to collect goods for Brooklyn residents and animal rescue organizations that have suffered as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Under emergency conditions such as those which have shattered New York City, unthinkable things are now essential to recovery. Under normal circumstances, visible “product” floating around in any amount- let alone the enormous volume in these shots- would engender an enormous response from environmental watchdogs inside and outside of government.  What you see here is unimportant right now, from a big picture pov.

There are kids out there- in the dark and cold.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying that, it will be a long haul to “get back to normal”, or it was so called eleven years ago – the “new normal”. Also, I cannot imagine how tired the same folks who always take it on the chin for the rest of us – cops, firemen, ambulance emt- must be. I’m sure it’s no joke for all the other services, who must have been “on” non stop for the last week with no end in sight.

For the rest of us, NYC will soon be operating under an entirely new rule book.


At this point, there’s not a whole lot that can be done to prevent the Newtown Creek from overflowing.  I was down there at noon today and the bulkhead at GMDC was already under water, and the water was a couple of feet short of overflowing onto Manhattan Ave.  We are expecting a high tide tonight to coincide with the storm surge and that could mean a storm surge of 8-11 feet at Newtown Creek, which would obviously put Manhattan Ave under water.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Blue Crow’s shack, a homeless shanty which been encamped on the Borden Avenue Bridge for several years that has withstood blizzards and storms, is smashed. I called out to him in English and Spanish, but there was no answer. Hopefully, the fellow found some sort of alternative shelter before the winds took his home.


“As long as you stay indoors, you’re probably safe,” Mayor Bloomberg told the reporters at this evening’s latest press conference. But what about the people for whom it isn’t that simple? The Observer is getting reports that even as Sandy roars our way, some of the city’s most vulnerable–the homeless–are still outside.

As late as this evening, an Observer source found a group of people at Eighth Street and Second Avenue with no plans to leave for a drop-in or emergency center. ”We got shelter right here,” one man told her.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m sort of worried about the situation of the various homeless camps around the Newtown Creek. There are a substantial number of people who exist in the cracks and narrow spaces here, sleeping along fence lines and along industrial sidewalls. One cannot imagine their lives during normal circumstance, let alone Hurricane Sandy.


With the mess of Hurricane Sandy in New York City over the last few days, we have been hearing a lot about mandatory evacuations for people in Zone A: areas in Staten Island, lower Manhattan, and eastern Brooklyn (Red Hook and Greenpoint especially). To meet the needs of these Sandy evacuees, Bloomberg opened 65 additional shelters across the five boroughs, stocking these makeshift shelters—high schools, middle schools, etc.—with food, water, blankets, and pet food.

The strongest part of this evacuation plan is that it’s a piece of a larger puzzle, and that these shelters are only a detour until these people can return to their homes. But for the 50,000 people in New York City who are homeless and need shelter every night, they simply are not given the same thought-out consideration or planning, at least not outside of weather emergencies. Certainly, we must commend those who were on the front line of the storm over the last few nights, reaching out to the homeless across New York City and even into New Jersey (well done, Cory Booker) and encouraging them to seek shelter, but where’s the same outreach and energy on an average NYC night? Where is the long-term solution for the population that is the same as Hempstead, NY?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having thoroughly documented the area around the Borden Avenue Bridge, Hank the Elevator Guy and I got back in his truck and headed off for points east. More tomorrow at this, your Newtown Pentacle.


In addition to the extraordinary impacts to our homes and public infrastructure, Superstorm Sandy also had an extraordinary impact to our environment. Riverkeeper has sounded the alarm about widespread pollution in the Hudson River and New York Harbor by a variety of toxic chemicals, including petroleum and fluids from cars and boats; contaminants from flooded subways, roads, parking lots and tunnels; and contaminants washed from shoreline industrial sites, as well as commercial and residential buildings. Our message is being heard, as the press reports on widespread pollution, as well as specific waterways, from the Gowanus Canal to the Rondout Creek.

You can do a service for our water by helping Riverkeeper to document this pollution. Where possible, we will take action with environmental agencies to remedy pollution. In all instances, documenting pollution will help us understand the impacts of this extraordinary storm surge, so we can advocate for actions that will lessen or eliminate impacts from the next storm. When you see something, take photos, and note the location, time and conditions, as well as any other necessary information.

After the Fire

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ret_g10_img_9766_qns.jpg by you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In the posting “Weird Synchronicity“- from September 8th of 2009-  I commented on the odd coincidence that a Dutch Kills factory that I was preparing a post on was immolated at the very same time that its photos were uploading to the interwebs. On a rainy saturday a few weeks later, I made it a point of stopping by to see what remained. The inset shots are obviously pre fire, and the whole setting is at the end of the “Empty Corridor” in Long Island City.
(empty corridor is a term entirely of my own invention, by the way. I also call Gantry Plaza state park down by Queenswest “that piers thingie by the Battery Park City thing” and call the RFK Bridge- Triborough)

g10_img_7430_trav.jpg by you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

ret_g10_img_9757_qns.jpg by you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Devastation seemed pretty selective, but I imagine that a couple of weeks of attention for a demolition crew, -whose presence and arts are evidenced by the clean cut lines of separation observed in the structures- would involve a thorough scouring for salvage. Metals are still quite the recyclable item, although the bottom has dropped out of the cardboard recycling game.

ret_g10_img_9762_qns.jpg by you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As longtime readers know, I never cross a fenceline or knowingly trespass. These shots were taken from the sidewalk, which in this case, is the glass and steel ceiling of an underground vault connected to this fallen structure. The back of this property abuts the Dutch Kills. I must admit to having used the weed choked frontage of this former factory for… the elimination of bodily waste… in the past. This embarrassing acknowledgment is ventured solely to comment on the elaborate and long habited homeless camp that existed just 16 inches from the sidewalk and which was hidden by the thorny foliation issued by the Dutch Kills. Whoever it was that lived there had opened a hole into this vault, whose depths swallowed the light of my trusty electric flashlight.

ret_g10_img_9749_qns.jpg by you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

No trace of the former residents is observed, they seem to have disappeared into the same manner as that duo from 50th avenue and 27th street who lived in a broken down car that burned away- and that enigmatic man with no legs who lived under the Pulaski Bridge’s Queens tower. Curious.

g10_img_7438_trav.jpg by you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

ret_g10_img_9780_qns.jpg by you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

From Fox 5:

A massive fire is burning in a two-story warehouse in Long Island City, Queens.

The flames broke out at around 6 a.m. at 50-10 27th Street and 50th Avenue.

Giant plumes of smoke from the blaze are covering the western side of the Long Island Expressway just before the Queens Midtown Tunnel.

Expect delays of at least 25 minutes on the Expressway.

NY Traffic Authority Ines Rosales recommends drivers in the area take he 59th Street Bridge or get off on the Queens Boulevard and take the Queens Borough Bridge.

There are no reports of injuries.

and from

A three-alarm fire in Long Island City was brought under control just after 9 this morning, but not until after it caused major congestion on the Long Island Expressway.

The fire broke out just before 6 o’clock inside an empty warehouse at 50th Avenue and 27th Street, just below the LIE.

The smoke reduced visibility on the roadway and briefly forced its closure.

Fire officials say the heat from the fire was intense, forcing firefighters to fight the flames from the outside of the building.

“We originally sent people in, but it was deemed unsafe, too much fire and a whole building that had been vacant,” said FDNY Deputy Chief Bob Maynes. “So we were worried about the safety of our firefighters.”

About 150 firefighters were needed to bring the fire under control.

The flames completely destroyed the facade of the building and took off most of the roof.

Three firefighters were treated for minor injuries.

Fire marshals have begun their investigation into the cause of the fire.

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 18, 2009 at 3:11 am

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