2013 Hurricane Sandy – Red Hook Recovery

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On October 29, 2012 Hurricane Sandy made devastating landfall on the US eastern seaboard. Its storm surge caused exceptional damage in New York and Brooklyn’s waterfront neighborhood of Red Hook. Damage in the United States amounted to $65 billion. It was the deadliest hurricane to hit the Northeastern US in 40 years and the 2nd-costliest in the nation’s history. The isolated Brooklyn enclave of Red Hook, which is host to a broad demographic of people and a wealth of independent businesses, artists and creators, was slammed with a 15 foot wave of ocean water that turned streets into rivers and flooded homes and businesses. The community wasted no time in banding together to help each other recover. The actions of the residents of Red Hook inspired us at ART from the ashes and compelled us to want to help too.

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Limited Edition Red Hook Bracelet

by Miki Tanaka

Hand-crafted in red bronze, brass and 100% natural cotton rope color choices:

natural cotton or hand-dyed indigo

Made in Red Hook.

Click to purchase

The Red Hook Bracelet is a product of the strength and compassion of three: Miki Tanaka (Red Hook based jewelry designer and creator of the Red Hook Bracelet), Jason Maas (Red Hook artist and founder of the Artist Volunteer Center) and ART from the ashes.

This hand made bracelet represents the power of the simple hook to connect – physically and metaphorically. Proceeds from the sale of the bracelets will benefit the Artist Volunteer Center.

Born of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, artist Jason Maas funneled his life changing experience into a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a forum to witness, present and participate in artwork that is derived from direct engagement with socially conscious issues.

Miki's Story

My husband and I chose this little neighborhood to live and work in 2010. Red Hook is not like any of the other neighborhoods where we have lived. People are smiley, you can smell the salty ocean breeze in the air, there is a little main street where you can find small businesses and from the shore one can see the skyscrapers of Manhattan. When the storm hit, we were in Japan visiting family. Flying back right away was not a possibility. Over four feet of water flooded the inside of our home and workshop. All our furniture, bookshelves, machinery, and tools… everything was soaked in oily sewage water. It was painful and frustrating not to be able to be there. Our incredible friends and landlords jumped in to salvage whatever they could, but I couldn’t help thinking about our workshop and all our iron tools, which were now rusting in the floodwater. I collected my tools gradually over 16 years. Some had a long history and sentimental value. When we returned home and saw the damage for the first time, it froze my head. Familiar things were all moved around, covered with sand and dirt and soaked in storm water. It took me a while to comprehend what was happening to us, and also to the whole neighborhood. It was hard to know where to start. I was scared and anxious about being able to work and create without having the place that I loved working in. I felt that our lives stopped for a while without a home and a place to work. I felt dislocated and lost. We lived out of suitcases for 5 months while we sorted through what was salvageable. Friends, family and even strangers supported us tremendously, both physically and psychologically. Their words, physical labor and donations made us stronger and kept us going. We couldn’t have done it without them. This experience definitely gave me the opportunity to contemplate larger questions and values. Starting from scratch takes a lot of work and patience. The only thing that we could do was keep at it with a positive attitude. One year from Sandy, although we are still salvaging and organizing, I finally feel that I am back on my feet. I hadn’t originally intended to write down my story into words, but after thinking about it in the context of healing together with my community; I wanted to share my story with people who might still be suffering or having similar experiences. The importance of home and a place to work where we function freely is something we all cherish. We still chose to live in Red Hook. We love it here.

The Artist Volunteer Center, Founder & Director - Jason Maas

I was a full-time working artist until Hurricane Sandy made devastating landfall. On the evening of October 29th, 2012, the first floor of my Brooklyn studio building on the Red Hook Waterfront was swept with seven feet of water. My space on the second floor was untouched, but all of my friends and neighbors below were completely devastated— their artwork, equipment, and livelihood vanished. I was grateful for having not been directly affected, but also traumatized for witnessing devastation all around me. Instantly I was inspired to help others get their lives back on track. I began volunteering full-time in the recovery effort and was quickly hired by NY Cares and later by the organization Respond & Rebuild to run Volunteer Coordination in The Rockaways to clean homes free of mold and debris with the work of volunteers.

These experiences led me to found the nonprofit The Artist Volunteer Center


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Artist Miki Tanaka standing at Hurricane Sandy’s waterline outside her home studio

Miki has developed her unique style as a working metalsmith and jewelry designer since 1999 and currently designs and producesher own lines from her Brooklyn, NY studio. Finding inspiration from history, personal experience, functional antique artifacts, ancientmetal work, people and other creatures she encounters, Miki views her jewelry collections as a story telling tool, hoping that each piece will start a new story to the wearer.

Proceeds support…

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The Artist Volunteer Center (The AV Center) promotes volunteerism by artists and supports the creation of artwork inspired by volunteer action. The AV Center is a destination for those seeking a forum to witness, present and participate in artwork that is derived from direct engagement with socially conscious issues. The Artist Volunter Center