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Storm crushes Red Hook artist, businessman

The Brooklyn Paper
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The artist and the businessman didn’t share much in common before Hurricane Sandy besides an Imlay Street address — but the storm left both of them picking up the pieces of everything they had worked so hard to build.

On one end of the largely industrial Red Hook block between Verona and Pioneer streets, waters claimed everything that sculptor and painter Z. Behl had created in the past two years, as well as most of her materials.

On the other side of the block, the rising surf swept through Ralph Streicher’s electronics warehouse, causing what he estimates to be $1 million in damages and imperiling his company.

Behl prepared for the storm by placing her artwork and materials off the ground — but more water flooded her studio than she ever anticipated.

“Last night, I put everything up about three feet, at table level,” she said while she and her mother, Susan Bodo, sorted through the wreckage on Tuesday. “But it wasn’t high enough. I didn’t think that it could possibly be this bad.”

Behl is hoping to clean the space enough to get back to work, but she has no insurance on her supplies and her works themselves are now a lost cause.

Down the street, Streicher’s warehouse — where he stores merchandise for his website Toner.com — suffered a similar blow.

“This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me,” he said as his employees sorted through boxes in search of goods that could be salvaged.

Streicher has insurance, but he doubts it will cover all of the damage — and he fears he may not be able to continue to employee the 25 workers who make up his staff.

“I’m just going to have to pick myself up again and see what happens,” said Streicher. “It’s a nightmare.”

Updated 5:36 pm, July 9, 2018
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