Across the East Village, Snowbound

EV snowy carsGloria Chung After yet another big snowfall, residents of the East Village shoveled, played and improvised their way through the day.

Once again the snow has put a wrench in the daily lives of East Villagers. The subways are slow, the corners are drenched in slush, and so are our shoes.

In light of all this immobility, we thought we’d ask some of the people most directly affected by the weather – retailers feeling the effects of meager foot traffic, school children with a suddenly free day and older East Villagers – to weigh in on how the snowy tundra is affecting their lives.

Here are a few snapshots from a snowbound Thursday:

Meltzer Towers Senior Center

DSC_0215Meredith Hoffman Mary Williams and Lulu, a Maltese puppy, prepare to brave the elements.

Holding her heart-fleece coated Maltese pup, today Mary Williams walked into the bustling lobby of the Meltzer Towers Senior Center and shared news from the outside world’s snowy craters.

“Don’t go out the back — the snow went up to my knee!” Ms. Williams, 68, warned the other residents of the center, a public housing building on First Street and First Avenue. Despite the “awful day,” Ms. Williams had taken her dog, Lulu, out to play, because “we love the snow.”

But Ms. Williams’ fearless spirit was unmatched in most other residents, who said the inclement conditions would confine them to their building all day. And with even boisterous twentysomething’s falling in muck on street corners, who could blame older East Villagers?

Another resident sitting in the lobby of the senior center, Iris Sweiberg, 68, shivered with her back to the snow and recalled her 6 a.m. excursion outdoors as if it were an intrepid adventure.

“Everything was dark,” Ms. Sweiberg said. “I thought I was going to fall, it was so slippery.” Ms. Sweiberg had walked to the subway in an attempt to get to her job at the Medicaid building on 34th Street and Eighth Avenue. Since the trains weren’t running, she’d returned home, for a holiday — without pay, she lamented.

Perhaps Maria Montalvo, an East Village resident who slowly made her way down East Sixth Street this morning, said it best.

“When I see this kind of weather, I say ‘I want to go back to Puerto Rico!’”—Meredith Hoffman

Ninth Street, Between First Avenue and Avenue A

Claire Glass Colm Henry tried to repair the fallen awning at Kafana.

On days when the neighborhood isn’t coated in nearly two feet of white, this block is busy with shoppers. Today it looked very different with most of the shops closed past noon. Most who dared to open said business is not up to par.

“Business is 50 percent lower than usual,” said Bernarda Izquierto whose mother owns Quality Cleaners. “People are walking in the streets, not the side walks. Even my customers in the building across the street aren’t coming over.”

On the other end of the block in Flower Power, an herbal medicine shop, the owner shared more drastic figures.

“I’d say we’re suffering 100 percent today,” Lata Kennedy said. “Normally we get five people an hour. Today there’s nothing.”

Unlike Ms. Kennedy’s shop, business at Pink Olive is on the rise compared to yesterday.

“I opened at noon and already I’ve had a few customers,” said Eli Castillo from behind the counter. “The weather is nicer now since the snow stopped and people have off from work. I think we’re doing better than yesterday.”

At Good Beer, David Cichowicz, the owner, agreed that yesterday proved terrible for business. His was down around 30 percent as of last night, but said it’s too early to tell today because he gets most of his business in the evenings. He was not optimistic.

About four blocks away, the situation was even worse for another business. At the Kafana restaurant, on Avenue C near Eighth Street, the winter weather was blamed for knocking down a wooden awning.

Earlier this afternoon, Colm Henry bent over the remains of the awning to try to move it out of the path of pedestrians on the sidewalk.

“At 6 a.m. I got the call to come from my friend, the owner,” Mr. Henry said, barely pausing from his task. “A neighbor must have seen it and called to tell him it fell down I think. It fell from the weight of the snow.”
And with that he went back to his work.—Claire Glass

Tompkins Square Park

DSC05146Suzanne Rozdeba Building snowpeople in the park.

The snowmen were out in full force in Tompkins Square Park on Thursday, where East Village children, off from school, were out creating snow sculptures with their parents and getting into snowball fights with their friends.

There were about 50 snowmen and an igloo scattered across the park in all shapes and sizes. “My daughter’s laying in bed, off from school, and I’m the one out making a snowman!” Anne Lies, 43, told The Local. She called her creation, which had “love” written with small branches across its face, “Love, Freedom, and Liberty” because “that’s what we really need more of, with what’s going on in the world,” said Ms. Lies, who’s from The Netherlands and has lived in the East Village for 16 years.

Some got more artsy with their creations. Janice Powell, 37, a painter, made a voluptuous snowwoman that she called “Aztec-y.” Her son Jack, 11, and daughter Cheyenne, 9, “started rolling this giant snow ball for her base. It didn’t take too long. I’m going to give her some hair and a face.”

Others used the day as a time to catch up with old friends. “We’ve been friends for a long time. We were pregnant together in the East Village,” said Severine Bardel, 34, who was there with her close friend, Aurelie Rhinn, 35. The two women, who are French, brought their two children to build a snowman. “I think the kids are just an excuse for us to build a snowman!” laughed Ms. Bardel. “It took us 30 minutes to get our strollers through the snow – and it was just one block. But we’re having fun here,” said Ms. Rhinn.

Then there were kids who got a little competitive. “We tried to make a chair, but this little girl kept stealing snow,” said Hannah Miyata-Lipsky, 8, who was building with her friend Zoe. But she was a good sport and moved on to making another round sculpture, which she called “out of this world.” As a student who loves science, she added, “We did a dissection, and inside we found more snow.” —Suzanne Rozdeba