This summer, Red Hook, Brooklyn is at the dangerous intersection of Covid-19 and extreme heat. The community is an urban heat island—temperatures can reach dangerous levels because of the lack of proper shading and cooling in the neighborhood, and the pandemic has shuttered traditional cooling centers because of social distancing requirements. Red Hook is also home to the largest public housing development in Brooklyn, and renovations from Superstorm Sandy in 2012 are still ongoing. During construction, the city removed about 450 trees that previously provided shade for residents. The response to one climate crisis—hurricanes and storm surges—has inadvertently complicated another one—extreme heat.
Enter Cool Streets—a neighborhood initiative designed to provide ways for residents to beat the heat outside.