Sheepshead Bay desperate for electricity

Sheepshead Bay desperate for electricity
Steve Solomonson

Major sections of Hurricane Sandy-ravaged Sheepshead Bay still don’t have electricity, heat, or hot water, say residents and merchants who are spending their third week repairing damaged homes and storefronts.

Con Edison claims that most Brooklynites now have electricity — but that news does little to console the hundreds of Sheepshead Bay residents who either remain without power or don’t have a home to return to.

“I lived in an apartment,” said 50-year-old Anthony Calzone. “But my landlord doesn’t want to pump out the basement, so I’m out on the street. I shower at my sister’s place and sleep in a park.”

As of Monday morning, a handful of Sheepshead Bay businesses have power, but most remain without. Gas-fueled generators are a common sight, say residents.

Businesses still digging out of the disaster zone Hurricane Sandy left behind include:

• The Mini Centro shoe store. Power generators hum outside the Sheepshead Bay Road store alongside a mountain of sodden footwear destroyed by Sandy’s rising floodwaters.

“We lost about 90-percent of our products,” owner Yury Sephir said. “We have no other source of income, so we’re trying to get everything fixed as soon as possible.”

• The Night Life Cafe. The Sheepshead Bay Road bar near Voorhies Avenue was seriously damaged as it took on more than five feet of water. Bartender Eddie Vasquez, who was serving drinks when the storm hit, was nearly killed when a storm surge caused the security gate to fall — trapping him inside as water continued to pour in. Fortunately, two passing cops realized he was inside and hoisted up the gate so he could escape.

“They pulled it out, and I went through head first,” Vasquez said.

Sheepshead Bay merchants work to clean up their storm-ravaged stores.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

• The Cherry Hill Gourmet Market inside the landmarked Lundy’s building on Emmons Avenue, where employees were seen throwing out tons of spoiled food last week, remains shuttered as employees wait for power to be restored. All of the businesses on Emmons Avenue between Ocean Avenue and West End Avenue still don’t have electricity, merchants say.

“It all depends on power,” said Cherry Hill Gourmet Market owner Uzi Mizrahi. “We’ve got a lot money riding on our refrigerators turning back on.”

• The Duane Reade on Ocean and Voorhies avenues was completely destroyed, according to employee Daniel Vanzandy.

“It got about three-feet of water,” Vanzandy said. “All the products were destroyed. We found stuff in the front aisle, the back aisle we even found stuff in the bathroom.”

Yet pharmacy workers are opting to help others before finishing repairs. Employees retrofitted their pharmaceutical bus — usually reserved for flu shots — to serve as a relief truck that distributed out dried goods, cleaning supplies, and blankets to hundreds of Sheepshead Bay residents-turned-refugees last week.

“Many of them are homeless, or in homes they don’t want to be in,” said Deidre Zaccone, Director of Marketing for Duane Reade. “We had a group of eight families come over who were all living in the same house.”

Most hurricane-rattled Sheepshead Bay merchants say they are ready to turn a corner and open, but can’t do a thing until the lights come back on.

“If there was power, we’d be open already,” said Peter Katsich, owner of Emmons Avenue Greek eatery Yiasou Estiatorio.

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.

Workers at Cherry Hill Gourmet say that they can't stock their shelves until the power comes back on.
Photo by Steve Solomonson