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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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