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Bronx Fares Better Than Other Areas, but Still Suffers Flooding, Outages

By  Patrick Wall and Jeanmarie Evelly | October 31, 2012 10:10am 

THE BRONX — The Bronx fared slightly better than the other boroughs as Hurricane Sandy battered New York Monday night, with fewer power outages and evacuees and no deaths.

But parts of The Bronx still suffered serious damage wrought by downed trees, at least one major fire and significant flooding in some waterfront neighborhoods.

“We are continuing to work with the city, state and other elected officials to insure that the areas of The Bronx hit hardest by the storm get the attention they need,” Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said in a statement. Diaz toured affected parts of The Bronx Tuesday.

The number of Bronx Con Edison customers without power continued to increase Tuesday, with 49,000 customers without power reported by about 4 p.m., according to a company spokesman. But even that amount was far fewer than in any other borough and a fraction of the nearly 800,000 customers affected throughout New York City and Westchester County.

Some 222 people had made use of the borough’s 14 emergency shelters by Tuesday afternoon, according to the Office of Emergency Management. No other borough had fewer than a thousand people in its shelters and Manhattan had more than 2,400 by that time.

And of the 18 deaths caused by the hurricane citywide that had been reported by Tuesday evening, none were in The Bronx, according to the Police Department.

Still, some sections of The Bronx made out worse than others, with flooding in waterfront communities such as Port Morris and City Island, which also suffered a three-alarm fire.

In Port Morris, the Harlem River surged north of Bruckner Boulevard in some areas Monday night, with water rising several feet above street level and partially submerging parked cars.

“It was a river,” said Charlie Said, owner of Port Morris’ Clock Bar. “We literally had the waterfront here.”

The popular Bruckner Bar and Grill sustained major damages, according to a message posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page Tuesday afternoon.

“I am sorry to say dear friends but the Bruckner was flooded and will need a lot of work,” the message read. “We are not sure when we will open.”

The owners could not be reached Tuesday evening.

In the seaport community of City Island, some residents saw their basements flood and many others lost some utility service. About half the island lacked power and the entire island lacked Internet access Tuesday evening, according to Barbara Dolensek, of the City Island Civic Association.

"Thank heaven for smart phones," Dolensek said in an e-mail.

During the height of the storm Monday night, a three-alarm fire broke out on City Island Avenue, on the island’s southern end, gutting longtime neighborhood seafood joint Tony’s Pier Restaurant.

State Senator Jeffrey Klein spent Tuesday touring his district, including City Island and other waterfront neighborhoods in the southeast Bronx like Edgewater Park, Locust Point, and Silver Beach.

“It wasn’t as bad as originally I would have thought,” Klein said. “People have a lot of damage to their homes, especially those that are adjacent to the water. A lot of decks have been knocked down.”

Klein said his staff had addressed constituents’ complaints about a live wire that was knocked down when a tree fell onto Main Street in Edgewater Park.

“Most of what we’re getting is really downed trees and power outages,” he said, adding that parts of his own neighborhood in Morris Park were also without power.

Several trees toppled over along Pelham Parkway, the thoroughfare known for its greenery. A lamppost and street sign also fell on the parkway near Boston Road.

At the emergency shelter at P.S. 5 on Jackson Avenue at the border of Melrose and Mott Haven, about 30 people slept on cots in the gym or watched DVDs on a TV in the auditorium Tuesday, according to one person there, Jason Catman.

Catman, 39, lives in the Lower East Side but was visiting a friend at Lincoln Hospital Sunday when the subway system shut down. On Monday, still stranded outside his home borough, he headed to the shelter.

He said many of the people at the shelter were single men, except for one couple with a small boy. While conditions in the shelter weren’t ideal, he said he appreciated the city’s relief efforts.

“I think they tried,” Catman said. “I give them credit for that.”

Damage in the South Bronx’s main commercial district, the Hub, was “minor,” such as shattered signs or fallen awnings, according to Melrose blogger and resident Ed García Conde.

But he noted that merchants would still feel the storm’s effect.

“The Hub is a ghost town with only a handful of businesses open,” Conde wrote in an instant message. As a result, he wrote, “the economic loss will be big.”