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And then the storm came. Like much of Red Hook, Fairway was destroyed by the flood waters. Every single component of the store—from the food products to the cash registers to the shelves—was irreparably damaged. When I visited last week it was startling to see how completely the space had been stripped. What was once a bustling grocery store is now a brick-walled shell. However, Fairway will be able to come back. Unlike many of the other small businesses that were damaged, Fairway has the reserves to rebuild. It's taking a particularly long time because of the massive amounts of equipment that needed to be re-ordered. It's not the kind of stuff you can get from IKEA. In the meantime, though, every single worker who had been employed at the Red Hook branch has been reassigned to other Fairway locations and provided with free transportation to those satellite stores.
Fairway plans to re-open in March, about 5 months after the storm, and there is no doubt that its return will bring back the commercial traffic that has dropped precipitously following Sandy. As exciting as that is, it is important to think about patronizing Red Hook businesses over the course of the next few months. Is Red Hook a little hard to get to? Sure. Make the effort. There are few other places in Brooklyn that have maintained the neighborhood integrity that Red Hook has. After Sandy, Red Hook and the the Red Hook Initiative were renowned for helping the community dig out from under all the debris. But now that the clean-up is mostly complete, there is a lull. The best thing any of us can do to help with the recovery is patronize the small businesses that managed to reopen and make sure that the vibrancy of Red Hook continues unabated.
Red Hook Fairway
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen