Residents in Red Hook Show Defiance in the Face of Hurricane Irene
Saturday, August 27, 2011 - 12:53 PM
Eggs and toast or yogurt and granola: that's all that's on the "Hurricane Menu" Saturday morning at restaurant and pub Fort Defiance in Red Hook, Brooklyn, one of many neighborhoods in the flood zone where residents have been issued a mandatory evacuation order ahead of Hurricane Irene.
Claire Raether said despite the limited menu and the fact Red Hook is in the evacuation zone, the crowds have been good.
"There's a big debate, like, 'Oh, are you going to weather it out?' Most people are leaving, I feel like, but then there are old neighborhood celebrities, if you will, who are just going to stick it out," Raether said.
Red Hook is an A Zone area. The only bus out, the B61, was scheduled to stop rolling down Van Brunt street at noon. Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered everyone to be out of the neighborhood by 5 p.m. Saturday.
But this is Fort Defiance after all, named after a successful naval fort which kept English ships at bay while General George Washington retreated onto Long Island. Red Hook natives are used to putting up a fight.
And so they are preparing. Across Van Brunt street from the still bustling restaurant, a boarded up shop window reads "Red Hook to Irene: Drop Dead." Just a few houses down, the Mercantile Store has spray-painted "Yo Irene. Bring it Bee-Yotch!" across its plywood covering.
Next door, Anne Griepenburg is covering the cellar hatch with a big blue tarp. "We are putting a lot faith in duct tape," she said. Griepenburg said she has lived in Red Hook for years and is used to flooding. But this time, she and her girlfriend have invested in sandbags.
"When we leave, we will put them out front and make the whole place watertight. We hope," she said.
The National Hurricane Center is predicting an 80 percent chance that New York will get storm surges over two feet. At least a 40 percent chance of a four foot surge. That would put a lot of Red Hook under water.
There are residents - and then there are natives. About one in five of the homes have taped up windows, and there are still plenty of people who look like they are going to weather it out.
Julio Sostre, a MTA worker who drives the B61, the only form of transportation in this isolated edge of the borough, said he and his family are staying put.
"I have lived here since 1949 - that's 61 years. When rents were $100," Sostre said. He has lived through two hurricanes here, the last one being Gloria in 1985.
"The worst that ever happened is that the water line came up to Coffey Street. It was just a lot of water, a lot of wind. That's about it. To me it's like another day."
Back at Fort Defiance, the breakfast crowd, fortified for the hurricane, is thinning out. The restaurant is closing at 4 p.m., and Claire will be heading back to her home in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn.
"I live in an apartment without windows. I think I will be pretty safe."