Fifteen hundred dollars worth of Hagen-Daas ice cream, wasted.
In a city “never exactly known for its cleanliness,” superstorm Sandy has left a massive mess behind. New Yorkers are now surveying the damage and assessing how much clean up is going to cost them. For residents and business owners alike, the destruction left in Sandy’s wake is overwhelming. And stinky.
Carlos Solorzano stood on the sidewalk watching a restaurant worker hose away fish guts left behind in the street by sanitation workers. A river of blood-stained liquid, littered with fish bones and octopus parts floated down the street’s gutters. Soloranzo is the superintendent of the building that housed the restaurant. “When we came back after the storm, some of the food was already rotten, all of the ice cream was melted, all of the fish had already spoiled. We had to throw out about 200 pounds of meat. That’s a lot of business, that’s their whole menu,” Soloranzo told NBC News.
In Manhattan, the power remained out for many businesses below 39th street, Rod Zindani, owner of the Best of New York deli, stood by bags of single-serve tubs of ice cream, all melted. “That’s $1,000 to $1,500 worth,” he told CNBC. It all had to go. The business, Zindani said, has been in the family for 20 years. He is not sure they will recover their losses, and if they do, he said, they will never be the same.
Union Square restaurant Tortaria’s head of kitchen noted, “Everybody’s throwing out food. All the cooked short ribs, cooked pork, salsas had to go.” Alfredo Vicuna, who works in the lower Manhattan restaurant, said, of their meat, “It will stay good for about 24 hours, but after it got above 40 degrees, we can’t use it. I don’t even want to think about how much we had to throw out. It’s not nice to see. The boss is literally crying right now about how much we lost.”
Along with business owners, residents are now facing not only food problems, but water shortages. Water reservoirs on top of buildings are running out in some areas, and outside water has been contaminated by sewage. Flooded sewage systems have spilled bacteria-laden waters into the Hudson and other New York rivers, causing residents to worry about the safety of the water flowing into their homes.
Dr. Martin Makary, a gastrointestinal specialist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, stated, “The GI system is extremely resilient to contaminated water. Sometimes people insist on sterile water, bottled water. But the most important thing is to avoid cross contamination with sewage. Water that simply been in the tub or out on the counter for a couple of days is likely safe.”
The waters flowing around the city, therefore, are contaminated and dangerous. The Hudson River, East River, and New York Harbor remain “filthy” because wastewater treatment plants dumped untreated sewage into them. “People shouldn’t even touch the water,” authorities said.
“Activities such as swimming, canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing or any other water activity that would entail possible direct contact with the water should be avoided until further notice,” the Department of Environmental Protection cautions.
With little or no water being pumped through many buildings, hundreds of residents do not have working toilets. For some, that tub that was filled with water before the storm hit has become a lifesaver. Brett Sherman, 59, told NBC News that the water in their building’s tank – which was supposed to last a couple of days – was gone in under 24 hours. Luckily for them, they live in a building with toilets that don’t have tanks. “You can just take a bucket of water and pour it in and it flushes. We discovered that,” she added. “But can you imagine that going on in hundreds of buildings?”
Along with food and sewage clean-up is, of course, nature’s leftovers. Trees and branches have taken over many East Coast neighborhoods. Deborah Schwengel, of Maryland, narrowly avoided disaster when the tree holding her kids’ tree house came crashing into her son’s bedroom.
“Had he been sleeping up there, he could have been impaled by it but fortunately, no one was in the room,” she said. Now all they have left is the clean up.