RED HOOK — Lights flickered on and contractors prepared to restore heat and hot water to parts of Brooklyn's largest public housing complex Monday morning, but thousands still remained without power since Hurricane Sandy flooded much of Red Hook two weeks ago.
"What a relief it is," said Brandy Cabrera, 29, who works for the Department of Education and lives in Red Hook Houses at 472 Columbia St. "My cousin called me and told me the power's on. I just came out here today."
Thousands more still didn't have heat and hot water by Monday evening, including all of the 14 buildings of Red Hook West, and eight of the 18 buildings comprising Red Hook East.
Those who got their power back over the past few days were celebrating.
"I can finally watch TV, that's the main part," said Kevin Alex, 46, who lives at 472 Columbia St. "Watch my TVs, my DVDs."
Dozens of contractors were working Monday to hook enormous, trailer-mounted generators and boilers to the Red Hook Houses' network of pipes and cables. Once connected, they will supply heat and hot water while NYCHA replaces the boilers and electrical networks that were destroyed by seawater that filled the basements of the Red Hook Houses.
"The boilers just exploded," said one contractor, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the press. "Cables burned and welded to pipes from the floodwater."
Residents who were still without power, heat or hot water said they're fed up with what they say is a lack of communication from NYCHA.
"I hear Thanksgiving, I hear today, I hear this week," said Makeba Griem, 40, a medical assistant who lives at 817 Hicks St., as she picked up free water from a Red Cross van. "I'm hearing so many stories, I just don't know anymore."
Anthony Watson, 63, a Vietnam veteran and vice president of the Red Hook Houses West Tenants' Association, also voiced frustration.
"Rumors, rumors, and more rumors — it's been two weeks," he said. "I'm a senior and a veteran. I have to walk five stories to get to my apartment."