As Hurricane Sandy pummeled the city on Monday, the storm waters surged through the streets of Red Hook, flooding basements, cars and Red Hook Community Farm’s field of late-fall salad greens, arugula and cabbage.
“The farm was under two and a half feet of water. It’s total crop loss,” said executive director Ian Marvy, who lives nearby in Red Hook, where he stayed as the hurricane struck.
The plants, even those that survived the flooding, cannot be sold or donated because of the water pollution. Mr. Marvy said that the farm had been having an amazing growing season and that the fields were about half full with fall crops.
The farm also lost two beehives, which had been tied down in anticipation of high winds but could not be saved from the flooding, as well as tents and quite possibly a good deal of equipment. Mr. Marvy said that he expected the damage would exceed $30,000 or $40,000, although fortunately the farm has crop and flood insurance.
“We’re going to be composting it all,” he told The Observer with a rueful laugh. Which was fortunate, as the farm’s large composting operation was also knocked apart by the flooding, with waters washing the mounds away and eroding the dirt covering the old cement field that the farm is built on. Pallets and other equipment were dislodged and scattered.
“Crop loss has been happening to farmers for centuries,” said Mr. Marvy. “But we’ve had four dramatic weather events in the last few years [a hailstorm, the tornadoes and two hurricanes].” He admitted, however, that he’d never expected a sea surge to wash away his farm.
“It’s new to these parts of the city, and the extent of this storm was phenomenal,” he said. “It’s hard to imagine a storm surge before you see one, and the speed of it was really surprising.”