Obama to Brooklyn: You’re a disaster

Wow, that was a crazy storm
Community Newspaper Group / Aaron Short

President Obama has declared Brooklyn a disaster zone from last month’s devastating tornado, but the federal designation won’t help homeowners whose properties were damaged — not yet, at least.

The federal declaration by the White House will cover roughly 75 percent of the city’s cost of removing debris and making repairs to public property, but the government is still mulling whether to award individual assistance to New Yorkers who suffered uninsured losses.

Mayor Bloomberg said he was “hopeful” that the request would be granted.

For now, though, the federal assistance would cover 75 percent of the estimated $27 million in damage throughout Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.

Pols hailed the president (which is not that common anymore, it seems).

“For those New Yorkers struggling from the disaster’s impact, this assistance can’t come fast enough,” said Rep. Mike McMahon (D–Bay Ridge), whose district was hit hard by the storm.

The tornado, which touched down in Brooklyn in the late afternoon on Sept. 16, tore through Park Slope, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick with winds that sometimes exceeded 80 miles per hour, though Queens got the worst of the damage.
Here’s a rundown of the damage, according to an assortment of city agencies.

• 50 trees fell in Prospect Park.

• 50 trees were so damaged they will have to be chopped down in Prospect Park.

• 180 trees were knocked down throughout Brooklyn.

• 154 people required aid from the American Red Cross.

• 16 families were forced to vacate their homes.

• 49 homes in Brooklyn lost power.

• 22 buildings in Brooklyn were damaged.

Aside from the extensive destruction, the tornado also caused at least one less expected, but gross nonetheless, disaster. Shortly after the tornado dumped nearly half an inch of water in only 15 minutes, the Gowanus Canal was flooded with raw sewage from an overwhelmed sewer system. The video of the fecal flood went viral, and reminded all of Brooklyn that the canal has a long way to go before it is no longer an environmental disaster in its own right.