Bar Patrons Watched as Harlem River Surged Into Port Morris

By Patrick Wall on October 30, 2012 2:13pm 

PORT MORRIS — Patrons of The Clock Bar on Bruckner Boulevard dined and drank as water from the nearby Harlem River surged more than a block inland and several feet high during flooding Monday night, partially submerging parked cars and reaching the edge of the bar’s elevated entrance.

“It was an interesting sort of end-of-the-world feeling,” said Erik Fuller, a photographer who spent several hours socializing at the bar and documenting the storm.

Floodwater four feet deep extended about a block-and-a-half from the river, swamping trashcans and flowerboxes and blocking access to the Third Avenue Bridge on-ramp, where a handful of cars were trapped during the storm, according to Charlie Said, The Clock Bar’s owner.

“It was a river,” said Said. “We literally had the waterfront here.”

A transformer attached to a utility pole one block south of the bar, at 132nd Street and Lincoln Avenue, spit sparks late Monday causing the lights in an adjacent building to flicker, which Said caught on video. Early Tuesday, the pole was blocked off with emergency tape and the box was still spewing smoke.

By 1 a.m. Tuesday, 38,000 Bronx Con Edison customers had lost power, adding to the 750,000 customers who lost electrical power in the largest storm-related outage in the utility’s history, according to a statement from the company.

Despite the encroaching floodwaters, the scene was mostly festive at The Clock Bar, where staff served food and drinks to some 60 patrons as they snapped photos of the storm, said Said and server Alex Hanuse.

“It was pretty much service as usual,” said Hanuse, 24, adding that it was “kind of exciting” to watch the windswept waters gather outside the building.

However, Hanuse said that at least one local resident who stopped by the bar said the roof of her loft apartment had collapsed during the storm.

Said added that the nearby Bruckner Bar and Grill and Verde Flowers both experienced flooding and Fuller, the photographer, said he saw a wooden water tower burst atop the moving company facility next to the bar.

“It was just a nest of loose boards,” Fuller said.

On Tuesday morning, police vehicles continued to block access to the bridge onramp, which leads to the FDR Drive. An officer stood by the ramp and directed traffic at the intersection of Bruckner Boulevard and Lincoln Avenue, where the traffic lights were not working.

A Con Edison emergency van was also parked at that intersection Tuesday. A worker there said he did not have information on the transformer surge, but that his crew was working on a “burnout” below ground.

The Con Edison website reported that six customers were affected by the Bruckner and Lincoln intersection outage.

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