Portify as we fortify: maritime & resiliency, MARAD & FEMA

Portify as we fortify: maritime & resiliency, MARAD & FEMA

I am concerned that superstorm Sandy could drown a good idea. By that I mean, that the focus on protecting NYC from water could prevent NYC from "activating the waterways" with greater and more diverse uses such as advocated by Vision 2020, the city's second comprehensive (and great) waterfront plan. "Activation" is urban planner speak for use them more.

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Mariners, please share your Sandy stories here for the benefit of all

Dear Mariners (ones on contemporary ships and historic ones) as we build up to the 2-year anniversary of hurricane Sandy, we invite you to tell you Sandy stories and share your photos here.  We ask you to join us in an educational project.

A goal of PortSide NewYork is to bring the community ashore and community ashore closer together. Sharing Sandy stories is one important way to do that.  We have found that most people ashore in NYC don’t know the mariners’ Sandy story, from prevention, to riding out the storm, to damages incurred, to recovery work -- usually recovery work while being damaged from Sandy.  

In the way that PortSide told the mariners’ response to 9/11 in an exhibit, we would like to do that with Sandy, and we’d like to start that project here.  

We believe that resiliency planning in NYC should involve hearing from the people who build the bulkheads and piers (and who will build any of the sea walls being proposed), marine salvors and equipment suppliers who pump the flooded tunnels, the crew and companies who move the fuel everyone was so desperate to have after Sandy, who clear the channels of debris so imports could arrive by ship, who build and run the emergency ferries, and companies that use boats like dinner boats in emergency response ways, etc.

We also believe mariners can have an important role in preparing communities for floods by helping teach awareness of marine weather, by bringing coastal living skills to New Yorkers living at the water's edge who lack those skills.

There are coastal parts of NYC where communities retain what were traditional coastal skills in abundance, the Rockaways, City Island, parts of Staten Island, where bayman, watermen, boatmen (and women) live, work and play; but large parts of NYC’s waterfront are now populated by people who have little sense of the water along which they live.

PortSide has designed some programs to share knowledge of the water with such people, and we’d like to see if we could kick off that conversation here.

What echoes in our ears is what we heard so often in the Sandy aid center we ran in Red Hook when people explained why they did not prep for Sandy either by evacuating or executing protective measures “they warned us about Irene, and nothing happened.”

This request is also on our two Facebook pages (Mary A. Whalen and PortSide NewYork) for people who would rather share there.

Sandy aid (grant & loan) for homeowner repairs

Van Brunt at Pioneer Street, image courtesy of  Erinmelina  , from Gotham Gazette, used under Creative Commons license.

Van Brunt at Pioneer Street, image courtesy of Erinmelina, from Gotham Gazette, used under Creative Commons license.

Sandy aid for Homeowner Repairs

Combo of $15,000 loan for 5 years at 2% and $15,000 grant = $30,000 with both.

We heard that the deadline for this is approaching. If you know or find out when it is, please post that as a comment!

Thank you Andrea Sansom for providing this info!

Authorization for Credit Report (Non-Borrower)

ER loan grant package

Contact person:

Raquel Colon, Senior Housing Counselor

Asian Americans for Equality CDF

111 Division Street

New York, N.Y. 10002

Tel: 212 964-2288

Fax: 212 964-6003

email: raquel@aafecdf.org

www.aafecdf.org

PortSide NewYork & hidden Sandy stories, ours & others

At the two-year anniversary of hurricane Sandy, PortSide NewYork is telling our Sandy story, a story largely hidden, like so many in Red Hook.  We believe our story offers hope and guidance for the future. That’s because our maritime perspective explains how we knew to prepare for Sandy, made us available to help Red Hook’s Sandy recovery, and is a knowledge base we want to share to make you safer from floods in the future.

PortSide NewYork was founded to help change awareness and use of NYC’s BLUEspace, the water part of the waterfront.  New York City’s area is one third water, and contains 29 islands.  PortSide’s goal is to create a place that will showcase what NYC’s waterfront can really be.  Our ship, the tanker MARY A. WHALEN, is an ambassador in that goal and our endeavor to bring the community ashore and the community afloat, the maritime community, closer together.  Here’s our Sandy story:

Please help us continue this kind of resiliency work and reporting. Buy a ticket to our fundraiser Tues 10/28/14 or donate

Sandy prevention: Saving a historic ship

Thursday, 10/25/12, 1pm, Sandy minus 4.5 days, PortSide’s crew said good-bye to a class trip of first graders visiting the MARY A. WHALEN and started hurricane prep, punching our way thru the list of what we did for Irene the year before. 

During the next four and a half days, we traded strategies with historic ships and modern workboats around the harbor. We all laid in food, water and fuel; tested generators; and moved our boats to safer places. PortSide curator Peter Rothenberg, shipcat Chiclet and Director Carolina Salguero are storm crew on the MARY A. WHALEN.  

The maritime community obsessively followed marine weather reports. “Grim installments are burned in my memory,” said Carolina Salguero. “At Sandy minus 1.5 days, we learned an 8-foot surge is coming.  At Sandy minus a few hours, I am readying for a 12 foot surge.”

Ashore in Red Hook, things were different. Sunday night, Sandy minus 24 hours, an email blast went out telling Red Hook which bars will be open and what movies are being screened.  Carolina worried, “Is the community ashore prepping for Sandy? Has anyone evacuated?” PortSide’s maritime world felt separated from neighbors ashore by more than the containerport fence. 

Peter Rothenberg was valiant. “When Carolina got word that the storm surge was expected to be 12 or 13 feet high, I had visions of the MARY tipping over onto the pier and emphatically agreed with the idea of securing a preventer line to the next pier 265 feet away.”

Due to preparations, our ship MARY WHALEN safely rode out the surge with our office aboard, enabling every form of Sandy assistance we delivered to Red Hook afterwards.  

Peter and Carolina came ashore on Wednesday afternoon to discover a devastated Red Hook, and immediately decided that PortSide’s urgent search for a publicly-accessible homeport was flooded to a standstill and that we would help Red Hook until waterfront sites recovered enough for us to resume real estate talks. 

Appreciation from Red Hook

Adam Armstrong, Pioneer Street resident and writer of the blog “View from the Hook” describes what happened next, “PortSide came ashore, quickly set up shop at 351 Van Brunt Street and proceeded to make a base - a visible and accessible storefront -  from where they could reach out, provide information, resources and assistance to their land lubbing neighbors, most of us who were desperately trying to recover from the immense damage that had been done to our homes and our unique, waterfront neighborhood.  Carolina Salguero and her team of volunteers co-ordinated clean-out crews and tradesmen to go and physically assist our residents, and they gathered and disseminated information about anything they though would be helpful - FEMA, legal assistance, insurance matters, Con Edison, National Grid, the Rapid Repairs program, etc., and provided a connection to our representatives in government. On many of these matters, PortSide organized meetings and reached out to our residents, and in the case of our street - Pioneer Street – Carolina co-ordinated the creation of a comprehensive contact list so that everyone on our block could share information and provide support to each other. It was - and still is - a wonderful way for the residents of Pioneer Street to keep in touch and get updates on our street's recovery.” 

What made that work possible was the selflessness of three people PortSide is honoring at our fundraiser on Tuesday, October 28 at Hometown. Victoria Hagman donated Realty Collective’s storefront and utilities at 351 Van Brunt, despite suffering extensive flood damage herself.  Park Slope electrician Danny Schneider walked into 351 and offered free labor. PortSide coordinated his work, and Danny reports that he inspected and certified 60 buildings and repaired some two dozen for just the cost of parts. 

Our third honoree, our Curator Peter Rothenberg worked both ends of PortSide’s recovery story, the prevention that saved the MARY WHALEN and the aid work after the storm of setting up and running 351.

Peter, Carolina and Dan Goncharoff of PortSide ran 351 for a month and then continued a virtual aid station and other recovery efforts out of view. In April 2013, PortSide won a White House award for Sandy recovery work, and in July, the New York State Senate honored our work.  

PortSide work transitions from recovery to resiliency

Carolina began attending resiliency conferences. Summer 2013, she was asked to become a member of Red Hook’s NY Rising committee to create local resiliency plans.  PortSide staff and interns did research supporting the committee (which includes bone, two, three, and four and several pages on our website) during the committee's eight months of work. 

One of Carolina’s NY Rising goals was to inject maritime issues into the discussion, hoping the State NY Rising process could influence a state agency, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), so waterfront infrastructure in NYC can be more repaired and built for both resiliency and everyday operations.  Carolina also proposed the solar-powered emergency lights for NYCHA housing which are in Red Hook’s plan and are being considered for other NYCHA developments. “I think the NY Rising committee work is good. Red Hook distinguished itself for what we put in our plan,” says Carolina; but plans are hidden assets for most people until they are built. 

Looking back on PortSide’s two years of Sandy-related work, for the sake of Red Hook’s planning better for the future, we would like to talk about some hidden Sandy stories of need and success we found in the course of our recovery and resiliency work.

Hidden Sandy stories of need and success

PortSide’s recovery work helped many people who don’t get media coverage and whose cases deserve more attention:  People without an advocacy group, without on-line fundraising.  People who aren’t comfortable using computers and needed Peter’s help to complete digital forms. People in mixed-use buildings that don’t fit FEMA homeowner funding guidelines. Renters who are not in NYCHA, and so are not in the media and political spotlights.  Seniors, immigrants. People whose divorce, estate and tax situations complicated filing for aid and kept them from speaking up in public meetings.  People who are private about their needs in general.

We learned that some affordable flood prevention was possible: The owners of Metal & Thread used a few hundred dollars of hardware store supplies to keep water from coming into their storefront and through the sidewalk hatch -- though their cellar suffered water leaking through the foundation from the empty lot next door.  Some tugboat crews saved their cars by moving them from Erie Basin to the second floor garage at Home Depot, above surge level.

IKEA’s contribution needs more attention. IKEA gave and gave and got no media coverage until the Sandy’s one year anniversary when their $250,000 investment in solar powering the Rec Center netted some articles.  

The power of connecting the community ashore and community afloat

Inland Red Hook is so disconnected from maritime Red Hook that the latter’s role in recovery is not discussed.  For example, Jim Tampakis’ business Marine Spares was significant in pumping out the Brooklyn Battery/Hugh L. Carey tunnel.  Vane Brothers provided hoses to the Hess fuel terminal at the foot of Court Street so home heating oil could be delivered. Both firms did that despite flood damage to their offices and mechanical shops.

PortSide feels the gap between inland resident and mariner is acute when we heard residents say “They told us to evacuate for Irene but nothing happened” and “I didn’t know there were two high tides a day.”  We conclude that people ashore poorly understand marine weather reports and don’t know where to get them.  

In comparison, mariners understand how to live with water, and how to prepare for hurricanes. They do the post-flood work of pumping tunnels, building ferry terminals and running emergency ferries, fixing bulkheads, clearing the harbor of debris so ships can import products as diverse as fuel, orange juice, new cars, bananas.  

To bring maritime voices to people ashore, PortSide plans programs to help folks develop coastal living and flood prep skills, such as educational events with actual mariners, exhibits, and creating a children’s book with our shipcat Chiclet as a resiliency narrator talking about riding out Sandy on the tanker.

Andrea Sansom, who founded the Red Hook flood mitigation Google group, sees the need, “We all love living at the water, and PortSide is here to help bring understanding to living with the water.”

Our ship is a great tool for this. Our tanker MARY A. WHALEN is now a maritime symbol of resiliency, in contrast to the tanker JOHN B. CADDELL, Staten Island’s symbol of Sandy, which went aground and had to be scrapped.

PortSide’s own Sandy damages

PSNY-Sandy-slide (9).jpg

A hidden Sandy story PortSide feels acutely is that of our own Sandy damages.  An electrical short left us facing thirty-five nights of relying on flashlights and one 15-amp extension cord attached to a little gas generator.  Sandy damaged the Sheepshead Bay house of our staffer John Weaver keeping him home for many months.  Everything PortSide had off the ship (antique crane, 60’ dock, electrical transformer, restoration engine parts, historic artifacts and documents, special event equipment and furniture) was flood-damaged or floated away. Our FEMA worksheet totals some $340,000, and we are still deep in that paper chase, starting six months late because we were misinformed that we don’t qualify. 

A massive Sandy effect on PortSide was the stalling of our urgent search for a homeport.  We need a place to fulfill our mission, earn revenue, and run programs. Resumption of real estate negotiations took many, many more months than we expected, and remains a major strain on PortSide.

PortSide is now focused on the future while celebrating the good in recovery. Come join us in that spirit at our fundraiser on Tuesday, October 28 at Hometown Bar-B-Que. Join us in honoring our partners in Red Hook’s Sandy recovery: Victoria Hagman of Realty Collective, Danny Schneider the electrician, and Peter Rothenberg.  Wear festive MARY WHALEN red and white.  We look forward to talking with you there and, going forward, continuing the work we’ve collectively begun after Sandy in understanding our waterfront in all its complexity and potential!

PortSide NewYork Hyster eligible for National register of Historic Places

karry krane logo.jpg

Another triumph!  Another historic item for Red Hook! Our Hyster crane (built in 1941) has been deemed eligible to be on the National Register of Historic Places! and in record time~

What triggered this accomplishment

In just two days, the PortSide team researched the history of our 1941 Hyster and the history of this "Karry Krane" model, submitted an application to SHPO (the NYS Historical Preservation Office) to see if it was eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and got that application approved! 

We profusely thank the staff at SHPO for reviewing our application in just hours, and we also profusely thank Jenny Bernstein of FEMA who told us about the grant that prompted us to focus on the Hyster. The Hyster was flooded by Sandy, and the grant is for Sandy damage to historic and cultural resources. 

PortSide-NewYork-DOE-1941-Hyster-Karry-Krane.jpg

PortSide applied for funding to reverse Sandy damage to the Hyster and to the replacement parts for MARY A. WHALEN's engine which were in the shed. The grant does not cover damage to historic documents which were flooded by Sandy. 

We applied for for the Hyster, and for damages to MARY's engine parts we would use. (The grant would not cover damage to those engine parts we planned to sell to support the restoration of the MARY A. WHALEN's engine.)  Earlier this year, we applied for FEMA Sandy recovery funds for Sandy damages, but we do not yet know if we will get funding.  We did not apply until May 2013 because we were told in a November 2012 funding workshop that we were not eligible; that was corrected in May, at which point we immediately sought Sandy recover funds. 

Our total Sandy damages amount to $134,000

Crash course into the National Register of Historic Places

In short, getting on the National Register of Historic Places is a two-stage process: being "deemed eligible" and actually being listed. PortSide did the MARY A. WHALEN in two steps.  For something to be on eligible or listed, it has to be deemed historical significant in some or all of the following ways:

Is it associated with an important person, event, or movement in history? Does it represent a significant design or technology, or is it a special example of a particular style? Is it the work of a recognized master? Could it yield important archaeological information about our past?

Here is our full application to SHPO in two parts.

Determination of Eligibility (DOE) for listing on the National Register

Supplemental History of Michael Cowhey

SHPO's response was "{C}{C}{C}Thank you for pulling together this very compelling and fascinating history of the "Karry Krane"  in such a short amount of time!  Both myself and my colleague, Kath LaFrank of our NR Unit, have reviewed your submission and, based on the information provided, the Hyster "Karry Krane" is eligible for the State and National Registers of Historic Places.  The only other somewhat similar type of property in NYS that we've called eligible is a historic steam shovel in LeRoy, NY. "

We copy excerpts from our DOE application below.

The Hyster Karry Krane is currently parked alongside the MARY A. WHALEN in the Red Hook Containerport. PortSide will be moving to a publicly accessible site in Red Hook at GBX-Gowanus Bay Terminal, known as the site of the Port Authority Grain Terminal. It would be parked in a diagonal parking spot on Columbia Street due west of the Mary A. Whalen almost opposite the crosswalk coming from the southern end of IKEA’s waterfront park (the former Todd Shipyard). This would make it highly visible to people coming southbound to us on Columbia Street.

 
 

This site also puts it between two sites of great industrial significance during the period it represents.

To the west is IKEA which was the mighty Todd Shipyard, major to the war effort in WWII. To the east is our prospective landlord's property, currently called GBX, with the huge grain silo built in 1922.

The property just east of GBX is where our MARY A. WHALEN began her working life in 1938, the shipyard and fuel terminal of Ira S. Bushey & Sons. See attached photo to see what that looked like in 1946. Bushey built over 200 vessels in their day, and had many more built at two other yards. Vessels built at Bushey's are listed here

http://shipbuildinghistory.com/history/shipyards/5small/inactive/bushey.htm

Ira S. Bushey & Sons shipyard in 1941

Ira S. Bushey & Sons shipyard in 1941

Todd Shipyard boomed during WWII. There were mobile cranes like ours in use at Todd. We have yet to check if the grain terminal used them.

In short, on southern Columbia Street, our 1941 Hyster would be in a perfect spot to tell local industrial history and how and where such Hyseters were used. Forklifts are still being used both sides of Columbia Street at GBX, IKEA, Arizona, Erie Basin etc, so the Hyster will be relevant to ongoing industrial and commercial activity in Red Hook. We plan to hang an exhibit banner on Erie Basin's chain link fence with history of forklift machines. Our goal is to make the currently empty and dull Columbia Street esplanade into an open air museum with historical info and explanations of contemporary working waterfront activities installed all along it.

On Columbia Street, PortSide NewYork will be creating center of historical exhibitry. With the MARY A. WHALEN, already on the National Register of Historic Place, combined with PortSide public events using the street and esplanade, the Hyster will be central to a Columbia Street activated via cultural tourism, creating a new attraction within the industrial theme and history of this immediate site and emblematic of the Red Hook and Brooklyn working waterfront as a whole.

History In brief

The “Karry Krane” name was first used July 14, 1941. PortSide’s Crane is from 1941. PortSide’s crane is both one of the original Karry Kranes made and, while once common, is now one of the last of its kind.

This crane type was developed by Hyster during WWII and was very significant to the war effort here and overseas. It was used in shipbuilding facilities, in ports for cargo handling and for rebuilding after the war effort. It was such a useful vehicle that Hyster produced it overseas when it opened its first plant outside the USA in 1951. It became an international workhorse. We find documentation that shows it was used in New Zealand in addition to Europe.

This particular Hyster crane was last used by Cowhey Brother Marine Hardware in Red Hook which closed in 2005 and donated their final inventory to PortSide NewYork. The Cowhey family was in several forms of maritime business in Red Hook for about 140 years when three Cowheys wound down the business.

Cowhey’s bought the crane from the Staten Island Bethlehem Steel shipyard when that closed in the 1960s. We presume that the crane was new when purchased by Bethlehem Steel when that yard boomed during the war effort.

Physical description of the crane

The crane dimensions are:

Body length 12’ 4”
Length of boom 10’ 1”
Overall length 22’ 3”
Height of body 3’ 3”
Height of boom 10’ 8”

1940: By experimental use of tractor frames, an advanced type of mobile crane is developed, later named the “Karry Krane."

1952: Hyster opens its first plant outside the USA, in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. The Hyster 40” and the Karry Krane are the first machines to be assembled there.
Criteria for evaluation.

This 1941 Hyster Karry Krane meets the following National Regsiter criteria:

(a) that are associated with history of a prominent Red Hook family and business. It is the last sizeable artifact of that business. It is related to a collection of other artifacts we have for that business. This particular crane is related to maritime history of NYC (two sites, one in Red Hook, one in Staten Island). And the crane model is particularly related to WWII history everywhere this crane became a major workhorse
(d) that have yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history. It is a means to tell stories related to the Cowhey family and business in Red Hook, the Bethlehem Steel shipyard in Staten Island, WWII and reconstruction operations in civilian and military applications.

History of the Hyster company

This is a 2.5 ton Hyster,the most popular World War 2,dock, lift and carry crane.they first came over on lease lend in 1941.

COLLECTION HYSTER KARRY KRANE MOBILE CRANE USAF USNAVY WWII

Establishing Willamette Ersted Co.
The company that would be known as Hyster Co. was founded by E.G. Swigert in 1929 under the name Willamette Ersted Co.[2] Initially, this company was established to manufacture logging winches for the forestry market in the Pacific Northwest, with headquarters in Portland, Oregon.

The Early Products
1934 saw the development of the straddle carrier with forks, which was one of the company’s earliest forklifts. Following this was the development of the BT, a forklift with a cable hoist system, able to lift 6,600 pounds (3,000 kg).[3] By 1940, the company began to manufacture its first piece of mobile lifting equipment, a mobile crane on a tractor frame, first known as a Cranemobile, later to be renamed Karry Krane. The Karry Kranes would prove to be very profitable for the company, as these lift trucks were used for loading and unloading massive cargo ships for importing and exporting purposes. In 1941, Willamette Ersted began recognizing a need for a smaller lift truck, and designed a new smaller model known as the Handy Andy. The following year, the Jumbo was introduced as the company’s first product to use pneumatic tires and a telescoping mast.

Operations in Peoria
In the company’s early years, one of its prominent customers was Caterpillar Tractor Co. Caterpillar held an exclusive contract with the company, whereby Willamette Ersted Co. would manufacture specialized winches for Caterpillar’s logging tractors. In light of this, the company decided in 1936 to open a warehouse and distribution center in Peoria, Illinois, where Caterpillar was headquartered. By 1940, Willamette Ersted Co. had begun full-scale manufacturing of products at its Peoria location.

For more info check out...  http://www.ritchiewiki.com/wiki/index.php/Hyster_Co.

 

History of the Cowhey family and their business in Red Hook

The story of this business is a means to cover several topics: how an immigrant family rises in stature, the growth of a marine business from “speculator” (eg, the maritime version of the scrap collectors with shopping carts today, someone who collected scrap metal by going boat to boat in the harbor), to a purveyor of nautical antiquities to the wealthy, then a marine hardware supplier and the operator of a port in Albany.
The Cowhey family grew in prominence in Red Hook from their speculator days in the 1860s, and at the peak of the business, they owned most of a block in the vicinity of their final outpost at 440 Van Brunt Street.
In 2005, as the business wound down, the Cowhey family operated a terminal in Albany of Federal Marine Terminals http://www.fmtcargo.com/.
Chronology of Cowhey family in Red Hook (for more, see attached history about Michael Cowhey)

John Cowhey started his business about 1862 [1937 obit says business started about 75 years ago]

By the time his son Michael Cowhey was running it, the business, John Cowhey Sons at 400 Van Brunt was a ship wrecking and salvage firm. The company was well known to decorators looking for nautical articles.

John Cowhey was famous for purchasing in 1911 the RELIANCE a racing yacht which one the America’s cup, dismantling her and selling her fittings and scrapping her parts. The 110-foot mast went to the Federal Baseball League park.

Michael Cowhey. d. 1937 had a wife Regina [or Margret according to a different source], a daughter Regina and two sons Thomas and John.

Thomas M. Cowhey in 1990 was the title holder to 440 Van Brunt which was built c. 1931, altered in 1957.

A Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Jan. 20, 1931 article describes John Cowhey as "one of the influential citizens of Red Hook" in his day.

The same article tells that Michael had in his yard several large old church bells that he had bought for scrap but had decided to hold on to. The bells rang eerily in the night but:

"If some one suggested that the ghost of an old Bailing ship skipper might be behind the tolling, he would nod solemnly. Then he would ask if his questioner had ever heard how in 1880 the wind blew so hard that Red Hook was white with scales, blown clean off the harbor fish, and how all the houses on the Hook had to be held in place by anchors. And how once it was so cold that he, Michael Cowhey, was able to walk barefooted over the ice to Staten Island. "