Dom Gervasi, owner of Made in Brooklyn Tours, started calling and texting clients on Friday when he heard public transportation was being shut down in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy.
“I did my walking tours on Friday and Saturday, but cancelled the Sunday tour,” said Gervasi, a former high-tech salesman who founded his one-man tour company in 2011 after the company he worked for filed for bankruptcy. Now, he’s not sure when he can get back to work since many of the small businesses he visits are shuttered due to damage from flooding.
“A big part of my tour is talking about Brooklyn’s manufacturing heritage,” said Gervasi. “The business owners are the stars of the show.”
Three days a week, between five and 10 people pay $50 each to accompany Gervasi on walking tours of DUMBO, Red Hook, Williamsburg and Bensonhurst, where he was born and raised.
On Tuesday, after losing internet service at his Bay Ridge condo, Gervasi headed to a coffee shop where he spent hours texting and emailing all the Brooklyn business owners he knows. Among the hardest hit was the new Red Hook Winery, located on the Red Hook Pier 41. The waterfront space was flooded by the storm surge, Gervasi said.
With so many of the small businesses he visits in DUMBO closed, Gervasi said he’s not sure when or whether he will be able to resume his walking tour there. Dozens of small retailers suffered ‘devastating’ damage from flooding, according to an e-newsletter from Dumbonyc.org. The stores include: Governor, One Girl Cookies, Aegir Board Work, PowerHouse, Galapagos Art Space, Almondine, SmackMellon, the 66 Water Street Restaurant and Punto Bianco.
When he can work again, he will take his clients to visit local businesses including bagel bakeries, wineries, artisan workshops, boutique cosmetics companies, a coffee grinding company and Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies. A popular stop on the Red Hook tour is the Flickinger Glass Company, which he said restored the clock face in Grand Central Station.
Debris from the storm was everywhere along the expansive Brooklyn Bridge Park, which runs south along the East River. The Carousel located in DUBMO was also flooded, along with numerous office buildings and apartment houses.
Along Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn Heights, I saw a worker nailing sheets of plywood over the front windows of the Floral Heights and Nest Egg Kids stores on Sunday. Neither store was damaged. Both reopened on Wednesday. A clerk at The Cook’s Companion on Atlantic Avenue said the shop remained open Sunday to serve a steady stream of customers.
Most restaurants along Montague Street were closed on Monday and Tuesday, but a few delis remained open for business. Banks and chain stores, including Starbucks, MAC Cosmetics, Radio Shack and Key Foods were also closed until Thursday morning.
On Tuesday, a clerk said at Duane Reade on Court Street said he took a cab from Bushwick to Brooklyn Heights to open the store. Among his grateful customers were a couple who had walked across the Brooklyn Bridge from Southport to buy three cases of bottled water. They said they had no water or power in their apartment.
Read more disaster-related stories.
Photo: Spencer Platt, Getty Images