Gerritsen Beach residents claim they were forgotten after Hurricane Sandy

Residents: Gerritsen Beach was forgotten

Brooklyn Daily
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City agencies and utilities turned a blind eye on Hurricane Sandy-ravaged Gerritsen Beach until residents forced them to look at the devastation the super storm left behind, say homeowners who claim it took two weeks for government aid to reach the community.

Residents in the tiny seaside enclave said Hurricane Sandy thrashed and flooded their homes, but help didn’t arrive until after community leaders demanded that Con Edison and the Federal Emergency Management Agency attend a town hall meeting and see the neighborhood’s condition.

“Con Edison and the city had no presence in Gerristen Beach before the meeting,” said Robin Blanchfield, whose Hazel Court home was flooded during the storm.

Residents say the Department of Sanitation was the only city agency who paid attention to Gerritsen Beach — a community of cops, firefighters, and city workers.

“Sanitation trucks started coming three days after the storm,” said Blanchfield. “If not for them, we’d be living under mountains of garbage.”

The Nov. 8 meeting at Resurrection Church was organized by the Gerritsen Beach Cares. Members claim they put the meeting together because no one else would.

“We were left in the dark by everyone for 10 days,” said Mike Taylor, the founder of Gerritsen Beach Cares. “We were waiting for someone to lead us and, when nobody came, we and a lot of other neighborhood groups and community leaders put this meeting together to try to figure out what’s going on.”

Taylor claims that Con Edison didn’t know that most of Gerritsen Beach was out of power until representatives saw the 800 desperate residents who turned up at the meeting.

“I don’t even think they knew we were down here until that meeting was held,” said Taylor, who said that the church hall was still packed even after many residents left, realizing that they wouldn’t be given an opportunity to speak.

“Some people just got up and left when they realized you couldn’t ask questions,” said Gerritsen Beach resident Laura Golding.

Yet the meeting had its desired effect: within a few days aid began flowing to Gerritsen Beach and the Federal Emergency Management Agency set up a mobile command center in the community last week to lend assistance.

“Now there are dozens of Con Ed trucks down here and people are getting their power restored,” said Taylor.

The Gerritsen Beach town hall meeting also sparked other meetings: just last week, Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Marine Park) brought utility companies and Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives to meetings at the Kings Bay Y in Sheepshead Bay and at the Hasidic Educational Society in Canarsie.

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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Reader Feedback

Shelly Banks from Joco's Marsh says:
Very simple: They're "victims"
of their coveted & legendary insularity.

Now they have the sheer gall to cry they've been forgotten, pleading for (& gladly accepting) help from the very outside world they've always done their utmost best to keep out.

Absolutely disgusting.
Nov. 20, 2012, 11:52 am
Sue from Gerritsen Beach says:
What is disgusting is your lack of compassion.
Nov. 20, 2012, 3:50 pm
Bob from Gerritsen Beach says:
Sue, that was the biggest waste of eight words that I ever read.
A person like Shelley is so full of hate and misunderstanding, that one could imagine. I think she sees herself as insignificant and irrelevant; she even spells her first name with a lowercase s.
Speaking for myself I am extremely proud at the way Gerritsen Beach residents handled themselves through this most difficult of times. I have seen nothing but compassion and sensitivity to our neighbors in need. The morning after the storm, two police officers knocked on my door and asked my wife and I if everything was okay and if we needed any help. Without exception every day for the next week regardless if we were walking in the street or in our home people would approach us and asked if everything was okay and offered us directions to what ever help was available. One day after the disaster a shelter set was set up by volunteers at Resurrection school with hot food being donated by Michael's restaurant. Within two days there was food and clothes donated to the shelter by surrounding communities. Within a day or so FEMA, Red Cross and volunteers from surrounding states and as far away as Taiwan were on the scene offering everything from cleanup kits to food and clothes. I have never been more proud to be a resident of this community.
Nov. 20, 2012, 9:06 pm
Robin says:

I must say that although you may have some truth to your comment, you may want to take a minute and see the devastation this Hurricane has made on ALL the innocent VICTIMS. Maybe you are on the outside looking in and since there has been little to NO media exposure because our MAYOR AND GOV have turned a blind eye to the devastation, there are tens of thousands of your fellow AMERICANS that have been ignored. A little compassion goes a long way. This is not the time or the forum for petty comments...This is the TIME that everyone needs to come together and help their fellow man, woman and children.And if you dont like GB go somewhere else BECAUSE I know their are tens of thousands of families that need HELP...
Nov. 22, 2012, 2:20 am
mike24611 from Gerritsen Beach says:
Shelly, I am not a life long resident of the beach, I have only been there a few years but I can tell you that your deluded if you really think that. This is a neighborhood of hard working, blue collar people just like pretty much everyone else in Brooklyn, perhaps the tightness of the community and the way they stick together and look out for one another is something you lack where you live, you can view it as being"insular" if you want ,but I prefer to call it unity, neighborhood pride and just plain old watching out for our fellow man. Perhaps you should try it sometime.
Dec. 2, 2012, 6 pm

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