EAST VILLAGE — There is an American flag in distress.
After allowing the wind and snow to rip Old Glory to shreds on the flagpole at the Jacob Riis Houses near East 10th Street and the FDR Drive, the Parks Department replaced it only after a Marine Corps veteran complained about its neglect.
But a worker left the flag upside down, which federal law states should only be done to signal an emergency.
It's the latest snafu in an unpatriotic saga that began in October when former Marine Raymond Rivera first noticed a rip in the American flag atop a city pole outside his home at the Jacob Riis Houses.
“I would come out of my home every day and see the flag there and wondered why it was being left out 24 hours day, including overnight,” said Rivera, pointing out that American flags are supposed to be removed at sunset unless they are illuminated at night.
“Then it began to be torn, but no one ever came to take it down and replace it,” said the veteran who served from 1979 to 1984. “I was offended.”
Finally, it was ripped completely away by the blizzard that dumped more than 2 feet of snow on the Big Apple in January.
When he saw the flag was gone, Rivera decided to contact the Parks Department and Councilwoman Rosie Mendez. They told him the flag was on New York City Housing Authority property so they would reach out to NYCHA.
After several days of waiting, and no replacement raised in its place, Rivera’s sister, Irma, a retired Manhattan NYPD homicide detective, told her brother to reach out to DNAinfo's “On the Inside.”
A NYCHA spokesman said the flagpole was on Parks property. A Parks Department spokeswoman said she would look into the matter.
The agency cares for more than 1,000 flags made of all-weather nylon that are flown 24 hours a day. They are replaced when damaged. The Parks Department believes that leaving flags up at night amidst city lights is well within the spirit of the code governing flag displays.
On Thursday afternoon a Parks spokesman wrote “On The Inside” to report that “NYC Parks has raised a new flag” on the East 10th Street flagpole as of Wednesday.
Problem is, agency workers will have to return ASAP to set it right.
Meanwhile, Rivera, 55, said he was overjoyed to see it “waving in the wind.”
“But when I got a closer look, I was shocked that they would put it upside down,” Rivera said. “I thought people were taught how to hang a flag. I can’t believe it.”