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Hurricane Sandy Aftermath in Coney Island

Surf Avenue: Flood Line on Coney Island Mural. October 30, 2012. Photo © Jim McDonnell

Jim McDonnell, whose beautiful photos and videos of Coney Island’s amusement area are frequently featured on ATZ, took this heartbreaking set of pix on Tuesday morning, the day after Hurricane Sandy struck. As you can see in the above photo of fellow photographer Bruce Handy at Surf and Stillwell Avenues, the flood line is at about 5 feet. During the peak of the storm, Surf Avenue as well as Mermaid and Neptune Avenues and adjacent streets were submerged in water that came from the bay, Coney Island Creek, overflowing sewers and the rising tide. In an image seen on the Coney Island webcam on October 29 at 7:53pm, the amusement parks appeared to be surrounded by a moat.

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath in Coney Island

Surf Avenue, Coney Island: Interior of Grimaldi’s Pizzeria. October 30, 2012. Photo © Jim McDonnell

Looking down from his apartment window high above the Aquarium, Bruce texted ATZ on Monday night at 9pm: “Coney completely flooded. Cars floating. Car on fire.” On Tuesday morning a tour of the area began to reveal the damage. Sad to see Grimaldi’s metal gate gave way to Sandy and the interior of the popular new pizzeria wrecked by the wind and flood waters. We dined there just a few days ago and it is one of our faves! The cobwebs in the above photo, which were part of the Halloween decor, look genuinely eerie. Eldorado Auto Skooter, Game World Arcade, Coney Island USA, Denny’s Ice Cream, Popeye’s, the Coney Island History Project and the game booths on both West 12th Street and the Bowery were flooded with 4 to 5 feet of water and left with interior damage yet to be assessed. November 1st Update: Also flooded in Coney’s amusement area were Nathan’s, the stores in Stillwell Terminal, the Wonder Wheel side of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and the Aquarium. In fact all of the buildings on Surf, Mermaid and Neptune Avenues from one end of Coney Island to the other were inundated by the flood waters.

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath in Coney Island

Surf Avenue, Coney Island: Shore Theater. October 30, 2012. Photo © Jim McDonnell

The sign on the Shore Theater, a New York City landmark which is vacant and for sale, was twisted and appeared to be hanging by a thread. The street was blocked off with caution tape in case it fell. Coney’s landmark rides–the Cyclone, Wonder Wheel and Parachute Jump–stood their ground against Sandy, but Steeplechase Pier was damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath in Coney Island

Steeplechase Pier, Coney Island. October 30, 2012. Photo © Jim McDonnell

While the sand was piled up two feet high on the Boardwalk, the sandbagged stores–including Ruby’s, Lola Star and Brooklyn Beach Shop–suffered blessedly little or no damage. On Monday night at 7pm, Jimmy Kokotas of Tom’s Coney Island came to check on his store. This morning he told ATZ that he managed to get out just in time before the flood waters starting rising on Surf Avenue.

Maya Haddad of Brooklyn Beach Shop said she was very grateful that the Parks Department put up sand walls to protect the boardwalk businesses. She was able to get into her shop on Tuesday and was happy to find no water damage from the storm surge. “It didn’t look like any water got in,” Maya said. On Stillwell Avenue it was another story: “Coney Island Beach Shop was flooded 4 feet high. Most merchandise and fixtures destroyed. Wasn’t able to get into the shop in the train station either. I will assume the merchandise there was most likely also damaged.” November 21 Update: While the Boardwalk businesses escaped structural damage, with the exception of Tom’s and Paul’s Daughter, all have electrical issues due to flooded basements and do not yet have power. The two parks have partial power or are using generators. The entire neighborhood is suffering from the same situation. Many have to redo the electrical wiring before they can get power restored.

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath in Coney Island

Coney Island Boardwalk: Ruby’s Bar and Lola Star Boutique. October 30, 2012. Photo © Jim McDonnell

A beloved icon is gone though. “So sad, it looks like Mama Burger is missing,” said Tina Georgoulakos, owner of Paul’s Daughter, in an email to ATZ. “She must have blown away, We don’t know where she is. After all these years!!” Papa Burger, the other half of the A & W root beer duo, withstood Sandy and anchors the other end of the building. “One of the gates blew open during the storm so the store is filled with sand but its way better than what happened on Surf,” Tina added. November 1st: GOOD NEWS Update from Paul’s Daughter: “Just wanted to let you know that we found Mama Burger!! I posted about it on FB but wanted to let you know as well. She was on the roof, Burger-less and Beer-less but ok. We tried to find the Burger on 15th street (where someone posted a picture of it) but we couldn’t find it. At least we have her. Now we just have to get all of the sand out of the store.”

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath in Coney Island

Coney Island Boardwalk: Mama Burger Blown Off Roof of Paul’s Daughter. October 30, 2012. Photo © Jim McDonnell

Deno’s Wonder Wheel, built in 1920, has withstood many a storm including this historic hurricane. On Monday morning, co-owner Steve Vourderis put extra cables on the Wheel to further secure the landmark from Hurricane Sandy’s high winds.

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath in Coney Island

Coney Island Boardwalk: Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. October 30, 2012. Photo © Jim McDonnell

Luna Park, which took down its Halloween mazes and prepped for Sandy on Sunday, thankfully appeared to have no visible damage to the rides. A steel fence at the new Scream Zone annex was bent, but the 85-year-old Cyclone roller coaster withstood the storm. However, waterlogged equipment and cleanup is a concern for all of the parks, arcades and other businesses in Coney Island’s amusement area.

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath in Coney Island

Coney Island Boardwalk: Scream Zone Fence. October 30, 2012. Photo © Jim McDonnell

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Related posts on ATZ…

November 24, 2012: Coney Island Post-Sandy: A Few Stores Reopen, Most Delayed by Damage

November 21, 2012: Coney Island Post-Sandy: Flooded Spook-A-Rama to Get New Stunts

November 20, 2012: Coney Island Post-Sandy: Mini-Golf or Roller Rink to Replace Denny’s?

November 9, 2012: Update on Coney Island’s Amusement Area After Sandy

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Hurricane Sandy at Sea Gate

Hurricane Sandy: Waves Crashing at Sea Gate on the western end of Coney Island. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project

This morning as Hurricane Sandy moved toward New Jersey and New York City, Charles Denson of the Coney Island History Project snapped these dramatic photos at Sea Gate and Steeplechase Pier in Coney Island. The bulkheads at Sea Gate are already washing out, Denson said.

“History is being written as an extreme weather event continues to unfold, one which will occupy a place in the annals of weather history as one of the most extraordinary to have affected the United States,” said meteorologist Stu Ostro in a Weather Channel blog post. For Coney Island, the crucial time is during tonight’s full moon high tide at 8:22 PM, when a surge of 9 to 10 feet is possible say meteorologists.

Hurricane Sandy Steeplechase Pier

Hurricane Sandy: Steeplechase Pier, Coney Island. October 29, 2012. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project

UPDATE November 28, 2012:

Charles Denson’s dramatic video footage of Hurricane Sandy making landfall at Sea Gate, on the western tip of Coney Island, where he rode out the storm…

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October 28, 2012: Photos of the Day: Sandbagging for Sandy in Coney Island

January 3, 2012: Record 3,000 “Do It” at Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge

October 31, 2011: Photo Album: Snowtober in Coney Island by Bruce Handy

February 26, 2012: Photo of the Day: Snow Mermaid on Coney Island Beach

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Pink Sandbags

Boutique Owner Lola Star Filling Pink Sandbags as the Storm Blows in. Photo © @Lola_Star_ via twitter

Sandbagging was a popular Sunday pastime on the Coney Island beach and boardwalk in advance of the arrival of mega-storm Sandy. Lola Star boutique owner Dianna Carlin, whose famously fave color is pink, spent the day filling pink sandbags with the help of friends and customers. “Both shops successfully secured with pink sandbags! Now to secure my production/ design studio by the water,” she tweeted. Her neighbors on the Boardwalk, Brooklyn Beach Shop and Tom’s Coney Island, opted for basic black. A double row of white sandbags were placed across the front of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Skee-Ball Arcade.

Brooklyn Beach Shop

Sandy Prep: Steve Miller Sandbagging at Brooklyn Beach Shop, Coney Island Boardwalk. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project

Lola Star’s adorable pink sandbags and cheerful tweets were a welcome contrast to today’s anxiety-inducing news. This morning, Mayor Bloomberg issued a mandatory evacuation order for Zone A, which includes all of Coney Island, from Sea Gate to Brighton Beach, and other low-lying parts of the City. A significant storm surge is expected on Monday and Tuesday along with possible power outages. Watch the Coney Island Cam to keep an eye on Coney’s beloved Cyclone, Wonder Wheel and Parachute Jump during the storm.

Coney Island’s amusement parks–Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Luna Park and Scream Zone–had to end the season one day early to prep for Sandy. Park workers removed Halloween props as well as tables, chairs, garbage cans and canvas. Some of the rides like Luna Park’s Brooklyn Flyer and Deno’s carousel were partially dismantled. Other rides were folded up or secured.

Sandy Prep in Coney Island

Sandy Prep: Sandbags at Skee-Ball Arcade in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. October 27, 2012. Photo by Deno’s Wonder Wheel via flickr

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October 29, 2012: Photos of the Day: Hurricane Sandy Approaches Coney Island

May 29, 2012: Photo Album: Coney Island Lights & Signs of the Times

November 15, 2011: Coney Island 2012: What’s New on the Boardwalk

October 31, 2011: Photo Album: Snowtober in Coney Island by Bruce Handy

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