While the build crew of about 60 volunteers were putting the finishing touches on the museum, a burst of water made its way up Avenue C, flooding the half of the museum located in the basement. While volunteers like Bill DiPaola from Times Up! were able to rescue much of the photos and archives, the walls of the basement and much of the carpentry work was ruined. For many, it seemed as though the MoRUS project was literally sunk.
Squatters, however, are used to rebuilding after catastrophe. The Lower East Side squatting, urban gardening, and general urban reclamation movement came into its own in the economic despair of 1970s New York, and continued to struggle for survival through Giuliani’s hard-line 90s. Although they had never faced a challenge quite like Sandy, MoRUS and C-Squat were well prepared to repair—and not just the museum.
“Our opening was postponed for nearly a month, but in the mean time MoRUS became a community meeting space for people in the neighborhood,” said volunteer Nicole. “The first day after the storm squatters from C were out providing food and barbequing for the neighbors on the sidewalk.”