When Sandy first hit, residents living in the Red Hook Houses in Brooklyn were left stranded in their homes without heat, hot water, and electricity. Now, a year after the storm, many are remembering the challenges they faced and what has changed. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
Even on a beautiful autumn day, it's still easy for residents of the Red Hook Houses to remember when they were in the dark and without heat, some of them for weeks.
"It was a big, big mess, disgusting mess," said Lisette Maldonado, a Red Hook Houses resident.
"It was cold in the house, no heat, nothing, it was very cold and freezing," said Julia Perry, a Red Hook Houses resident.
The problems were caused by salt water pouring into basements and boiler rooms where it wreaked havoc on electrical systems. Residents desperate for heat used gas stoves to stay warm, something the Fire Department warns against. With local businesses shut down, lines were long for food and supplies at emergency centers in the neighborhood. Community groups sprung into action to provide help to people shut in because of broken elevators, navigating through dark hallways with flashlights to provide assistance.
"They were very helpful. I didn't have to worry about nothing. They just knocked at my door bring food for me and everything," Perry said.
"They gave out food, blankets, flashlights, they were giving out water," said Diane, a Red Hook Houses resident.
A year later there are still reminders of the storm, including temporary boiler trucks hooked up to some buildings. Lisette Maldonado says there is also paint and plaster chipping in apartments and hallways -- something she believes is a direct result of the storm and the weeks of no heat in the buildings.
"With the humidity, a lot of the people were warming up the kids in the house with boiling water. And that brings more humidity. You can still see cracks in the paint an the plaster is crumbling down. We still have a lot of things to fix," Maldonado said.
Residents are still having trouble getting Sandy out of their minds, and say they're concerned about the future and other storms like Sandy that can hit the area again.
"Everybody has fears now that it might come back again, and we are just hoping it doesn't, and bracing to see what happens," said Alex Victor, a Red Hook Houses resident.
"We have to be prepared, we have to," Maldonado added.
Residents say they hope the housing authority will be prepared too.