Residents Still Evacuated in Willowtown

BHB photo by jpruggie

BHB photo by jpruggie

As of 5PM BHB tipster “JP” says residents are still evacuated from their homes and not allowed back in:

Still evacuated from 49 Joralemon St at 5PM, I saw the explosion and had to run for cover from rocks and debris. Snapped this photo a few minutes after. There was clear evidence of an underground fire before the explosion.

Share this Story:
  • aaron

    any details on the evacuations?? 10 columbia place here… would love to know if we can get in after work

  • WillowtownCop

    Columbia Place is not evacuated- just tell the cops in the car that you live here and they will let you in.

  • aaron

    awesome, thanks!

  • Matty T

    Does anyone know who you would call to see if you can get in? We live on Joralemon, a couple doors up from Willow. 311?

  • Dan

    I was able to get down Willow and take a few additional pics (they are the night shots):

  • bklyn20

    I live on Willow Place not far from the explosion site — we were allowed back into our building app 5:15/5:30 pm. Two teams — fire dept and gas co? — came into our place to check for gas/carbon monoxide. However, a neighbor further south on Willow Place had not yet been let in — there were still “dangerous readings” of some sort in his house. Some Joralemon St residents were held back as well.

    I think the explosions actually started a little before 1:00 pm — I can tell from the call log on my cell phone. The first explosion was deafeningly loud. I had also noticed , about 10:00 am this morning, that workmen were ripping up the street at the house being renovated on Willow Place-right next to the MTA substation/power station. I debated coming over to them to complain — my understanding was that it was National Grid putting in a gas line for the long-abandoned house, and it’s illiegal to do non-emergency work on a holiday or weekend. (You need special permits.) Since the jackhammering started c. 9/10 am, rather than the usual 7 am, and since it stopped pretty quickly, I didn’t complain. Why alienate a new neighbor?

    After the first explosion on Joralemon near Willow Place, I walked over to the National Grid contractors and nagged them a bit about working on a holiday. What do you know, the second explosion came right where I’d been standing, and copious amont of nasty smoke was billowing out of the rectangular cut in the street. That was when I felt sure we’d be evacuated.

    Explosion #3 was another manhole cover lift-off on Joralemon, very close to Willow Place. (I didn’t see it, but certainly heard it.) Then we were told to get out. We are back in now, but lots of work is still going on out there. especially on Joralemon St. It looks like several building there are still empty.

    Three lessons:
    1. National Grid et al must stop using upstate contractors on Brooklyn Hts jobs, unless they brief them first about the morass of water/electric/gas lines right under the pavement. A few years ago half of Willow Place lost electricity becasue an NYC utilitys subcontracto (who drove down from from Spring Valley!) was trying to break asphalt with a backhoe rather than a jackhammer. The sound of the backhoe’s claw hitting pavement shook our windows. Today’s National Grid work may have been what caused all this.

    2. Everyone, know where your important papers, prescriptions and absolute necessities are — or have a “Go Bag” at the ready. I was lucky I had 3 or 4 minutes to get what I needed in case a sleepover with the Red Cross at St Charles Borromeo was in my future.

    3. Will this incident finally prove to the ESDC/BBPDC/DOT — to whomever is necessary — that Joralemon Street CANNOT be a vehicular entrance to Brooklyn Bridge Park? We need retractable bollards at the end of Joralemon, at Furman Street. Pedestrians can then use it as an alternative to Atlantc Avenue, but not the hundreds of cars that could come on the weekends. Joralemon is a fragile cobblestoned street over a major subway line (4/5), layered with a spiderweb of utility pipes and wires for the NY subway system. Doesn’t this near-disaster prove my point.

  • bklyn20

    I just spoke with new Councilman Steve Levin — he is already informed on this, and will start working on it first thing tomorrow. He also has hired long-time Brownstone Brooklyn Maveness Marian Wood, who knows her way around the brooklyn utitlity companies, among other things.

  • AEB

    Thanks, bklyn20, for the comprehensive, inside reporting–and the advice.

    I sometimes wonder how I would manage my two felines in case of an emergency that required our immediate evacuation…..

  • my2cents

    Great info here. Thanks!