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Brooklyn Heights Residents Begin Cleanup Effort in Wake of Hurricane Sandy

By Emily Frost | October 30, 2012 2:39pm

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — The morning after the worst of Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, Brooklyn Heights residents took to the streets with brooms and rakes to begin cleaning up fallen tree branches in a neighborhood relatively spared from extensive damage.

Locals were out and about Tuesday morning despite the lingering storm, many congregating on the promenade — which was still officially closed by the city, as they did throughout the day Monday — to survey the city and check for any flooding below. 

Other, however, were already partaking in their typical morning routine — eating breakfast at Clark's Restaurant at the corner of Henry and Clark Street or Happy Days Diner on Montague Street.

Larger chain stores were still closed Tuesday morning, including Starbucks and Rite Aid on Montague Street, Trader Joe's on Atlantic Avenue, and Barnes & Noble on Court Street.

Many businesses had taped their windows to prevent damage from glass, but no homes or businesses seemed to have weathered major structural damage.

Within the residential district closer to the waterfront, many tree branches split and toppled to the ground during the storm, littering the streets with leaves. In some cases, large branches blocked the sidewalks or leaned precariously on cars and homes. 

On Clark Street, three trees broke in half, sending branches cascading to the ground. 

Early Tuesday, neighbors hit the streets to begin the cleanup effort. 

"Everybody has to do their little part. We can't just sit back," said Peter Grubb, 58, a maintenance worker for buildings on Remsen Street. 

"This is a mess," he said, as he raked up a big pile of wet leaves. "I have never seen anything like this — the wind, the water, the devastation." 

In Brooklyn Heights, Grubb said he was relieved that he hadn't seen structural damage anywhere.

"This neighborhood is built to withstand these things," he said. 

On Clark Street, members of the Watchtower Society donned hard hats and began their own cleanup effort. 

"We'll be doing general cleanup in the area," said Curt Tye, 51, a member of the Watchtower who said that they were sending out a crew of 20 to 30 volunteers to help neighbors with tree and branch cleanup.

Tony Wright, 31, who had a chainsaw on hand to break up large branches, said he hadn't seen any police or city cleanup efforts in Brooklyn Heights yet. 

Lori Benson, 41, and David Rodriguez, 43, of Downtown Brooklyn, were taking stock of the damage Tuesday morning. 

"We didn't think our windows were going to make it," Rodriguez said. "It's really nerve-wracking to sit and listen [to the wind]." 

Neighborhood favorite Sahadi's was proudly open Monday and Tuesday. 

"We're a community store," said Charlie Sahadi, 48, who said his Middle Eastern grocery has been on Atlantic Avenue for 64 years. 

He and his employees formed carpools to get a "skeleton crew" of 22 people, instead of the usual 36, to work. 

"People are very thankful we are open," he said. "You have to eat."