The Red Hook Community Justice Center is set to reopen on Nov. 26 after the Oct. 29 surge from Hurricane Sandy flooded the building’s basement and closed the facility. The Brooklyn center, located in a mandatory evacuation zone, ended up with five feet of water in the basement that had to be pumped out over several days, said Justin Barry, chief clerk of the New York City Criminal Court. The basement contains mechanical functions like the boiler room, but also holding pens for defendants, classrooms and locker facilities for personnel. Apart from court staff, the building houses some New York Police Department employees and Center for Court Innovation staffers.
The rehabilitation required ripping out drywall and replacing a hot water heater and electrical work, said Barry. Though he did not know the total cost of the damage, Barry said the destruction of equipment such as vans, radios, uniforms and weapons alone cost “tens of thousands of dollars.”
While the center at 88 Visitation Pl. was closed, cases were handled in the Brooklyn Criminal Court at 120 Schermerhorn St. Though most services will resume on Nov. 26, Barry said arraignments at the center will not resume until Dec. 3. In the interim, arraignments will be handled at Brooklyn Criminal Court.
Acting Supreme Court Justice Alex Calabrese, the sole judge sitting at the Red Hook center, praised city and court officials for their response. “We’re amazed we’re able to get back in the courthouse so quickly given the extent of the damage,” he said.