Jewish Enclave Devastated by Sandy's Wrath

Historic Storm Leaves Brooklyn's Sea Gate On Its Knees

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published October 30, 2012.
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Video: Nate Lavey


Hurricane-force winds and historic flooding from superstorm Sandy have devastated the Brooklyn neighborhood of Sea Gate, a gated community on the western tip of Coney Island that is home to several hundred Jewish families.

Many homes facing the Atlantic Ocean were gutted by floodwaters. A few were absolutely flattened by the raging winds. Broken windows gaped open. In one home, rising tides pushed furniture out through two bulging garage doors.

Razie Lefkowitz, whose home is still standing, said that she was watching the waves with some of her five children at around 6:30 p.m. Monday when the water started rising quickly.

“We basically just ran away,” she said.

Water rose to three or four feet deep on Surf Avenue, the main street, which is now impassible in some places. Lefkowitz said that one neighbor hung a white towel out of her second-story window to signal for help after the first story of her house flooded.

Lefkowitz, like many others here, rode out the storm. Despite the widespread severe damage, there are no reports so far of deaths or injuries in Sea Gate.

“The captain doesn’t leave the ship,” said Pinny Dembitzer, president of the local homeowners association, when asked via telephone Tuesday morning whether he had stayed the night.

Police were preventing cars from entering the community Tuesday afternoon. Pedestrians came and went, taking photos of crushed cars and damaged homes. Humming pumps were working to empty basements filled with water.

The streets were covered in sand blown in by the storm. Residents walked around in a daze, stunned by the historic disaster.


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