Tag Archives: Hurricane Irene

Queens couple stays strong through Sandy


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Frances and Peter Wilps

Frances and Peter Wilps of Broad Channel were selected as the winners of The Queens Courier Valentine’s Day Couples Contest:

In traditional wedding vows, the bride and groom often promise to love each other “in good times and in bad,” but for one Queens couple, it would have been more appropriate to say “in good weather and in bad.”

Natural disasters, however, were the last thing on Frances and Peter Wilps’ minds when they were matched on the dating website eHarmony.

Both were previously married with children, and for the first time decided to go online to find love.
Frances said she didn’t have high hopes of meeting someone, but thought, “what do I have to lose? Let me give it a whirl.”

Her first few dates were “a disaster,” but her first date with Peter was the opposite.

“Everything he said [on his online dating profile] seemed so sincere,” said Frances.

But that magical first meeting almost didn’t happen because Peter lived in Monmouth County, New Jersey and Frances resided in Broad Channel, a distance of one to two hours, depending on traffic.

“I thought, ‘I’m not going to go through with this. It’s a big waste of time, the commute seeing each other,’” said Frances.

Still, Peter was persistent and called her for a date, agreeing to meet her at Frenasia, an Asian restaurant on Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach.

“[Frenasia] has kind of become our home. It’s our every Friday night thing,” said Frances.

About five months later, in August 2007, Frenasia was where Peter proposed.

It was also where the couple went to have a private moment following their wedding.

“We walked in there as husband and wife, and we sat down and someone sent us a bottle of champagne and we ate a little something,” said Frances.

Following the wedding, Peter moved to Frances’ home in Broad Channel, and the adjustment was easy. Like his wife, Peter grew up in Queens.

The real test of their marriage came a few years later when Irene hit New York City in August, 2011, followed by Sandy only 14 months later.

Their house sustained some water damage from Irene, but Sandy destroyed the Wilps’ entire first floor.

“We knew we would get water, but we never thought the magnitude of it would be what it was”, said Frances.

Though many personal items were lost, fortunately their wedding photos and other keepsakes were fine.

“On the mantle I had a bunch of pictures and my husband said take them off, bring them upstairs and I was questioning him, she said. “Thank God I listened.”

A few months later, they are slowly fixing their first floor, but there is still no heat, appliances or furniture in downstairs.
“You learn what you take for granted, that’s for sure,” said Frances.

For now, they are living in a bedroom and are dealing with the financial burden and rebuilding what they lost in the storm.

Sandy “has been very trying,” on their relationship, said Frances.

“We are on top of each other 24/7 and it’s tough, the stress of no money and the house is a mess,” she continued.
But along with adding stress, the disaster has also strengthened their marriage.

“The support from one another has been fabulous,” He’s just wonderful. When I need him, he’s always strong. And I’m there for him when he has his moments and he’s upset and he’s worried,” she said. “We’re each other’s backbone.”

As winners of The Courier’s contest the Wilps will receive a “King & Queens for a Day” spa package from Christie & Co. Salon * Spa in The Bay Terrace.

 

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Parker Jewish weathers Superstorm Sandy


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Throughout Sandy and its aftermath, the residents, patients and staff of the Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation remained safe and comfortable, and programs and services went on as scheduled.

“The dedication of Parker’s staff, combined with years of careful emergency planning and preparedness drills [empowered] Parker, literally, to weather the storm,” said Michael N. Rosenblut, President and CEO.

Outside of the New Hyde Park facility, Parker also responded to requests for assistance in areas of New York City and Nassau County, and cared for evacuees from Brooklyn’s Shore View Nursing Home, Far Rockaway’s St. John’s Episcopal Hospital and Long Beach’s Komanoff Center for Geriatric and Rehabilitation Medicine.

Aside from patient care, Parker also published and disseminated regular information bulletins and established a 24-hour hotline to update the surrounding communities on services related to the storm. Also, similar to Hurricane Irene, Parker’s medical transportation division, Lakeville Ambulette Transportation, LLC, and its staff provided key assistance to many displaced by the storm.

Additionally, Parker’s gift shop became an official Community Voting Center to facilitate voting for the November presidential elections, not only for its own residents and patients, but also for evacuees who were being cared for at Parker, and for community residents whose polling locations were impacted by the storm.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Clear. High of 48. Breezy. Winds from the WNW at 15 to 20 mph. Wednesday night: Clear in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 36. Winds from the NNW at 5 to 15 mph

EVENT of the DAY: Queens Young Professionals Holiday Party

Recently, the Queens Young Professionals group formed to provide resources and networking opportunities to cultivate the borough’s future business leaders and encourage the next generation to become invested in borough wide issues. QYP, which is free to join, hosts its first ever holiday party with an unlimited buffet and specially priced drinks plus the chance to network. $10. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

M.T.A. chief will resign as he looks at mayoral bid

Joseph J. Lhota, the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, has informed the Cuomo administration that he is stepping down from his position, according to four people with direct knowledge of his plans. Read more: New York Times

MTA to vote on fare, toll hike proposal Wednesday

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is scheduled to vote on its latest fare and toll hike proposal Wednesday morning. Read more: NY1

Little-known program can help flood-prone homeowners stave off future damage

Broad Channel homeowner Joan Delahunt, still reeling from the impact of Hurricane Irene, was working on a plan to raise the level of her flood-prone home when Superstorm Sandy struck. Read more: New York Daily News

NRA breaks silence, comments on Newtown tragedy

After four days of self-imposed silence on the shooting that killed 26 people inside a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, the nation’s largest gun rights lobby emerged Tuesday and promised “to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.” ABC New York

Obama to call for gun policy changes

President Barack Obama is launching an administration-wide effort to curb gun violence, underscoring the growing political consensus over tightening gun restrictions following the horrific massacre at a Connecticut elementary school. Read more: Fox New York

Instagram takes step back, says ‘It is not our intention to sell your photos

Instagram, the popular mobile photo-sharing service now owned by Facebook, has backpedaled on some of its planned changes that led to concerns that it would use its members’ photos in advertisements. Read more: CBS New York

Time 2012 Person of the Year: Barack Obama

Twenty-seven years after driving from New York City to Chicago in a $2,000 Honda Civic for a job that probably wouldn’t amount to much, Barack Obama, in better shape but with grayer hair, stood in the presidential suite on the top floor of the Fairmont Millennium Park hotel as flat screens announced his re-election as President of the United States. Read more: Time magazine

 

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Partly cloudy. Fog early. High of 59. Winds from the NW at 5 to 10 mph. Monday night: Clear in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 48. Winds less than 5 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: Greater Astoria Historical Society Christmas Party

Widely regarded as one of the greatest storytellers of all time, Charles Dickens left an indelible mark on how we celebrate the holidays. Tonight the Greater Astoria Historical Society will mark the 200th anniversary of the writer’s birth and have its annual holiday party with music, fun and special raffles. Free. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Up to St. John’s University to continue case against estate of suicide dean, Cecilia Chang

The Queens district attorney will abandon his effort to get back the $1 million the late St. John’s University dean Cecilia Chang embezzled from the school — leaving the university to decide whether to continue the case against the estate of the suicide dean. Read more: New York Daily News

Cuomo to make $42B storm aid pitch to Congress

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will be in the nation’s capital to meet with members of Congress as he seeks billions of dollars in federal aid to help New York recover from Superstorm Sandy. Read more: Fox 5 New York

Work week begins with higher tolls on bridges and tunnels

The countdown was on Sunday night to the first morning rush since a new toll hike went into effect for bridges and tunnels run by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Read more: CBS New York

Development will damage Flushing Meadows’ role as marshy buffer against storm surge and coastal flooding

The borough of Queens was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Breezy Point, the Rockaways and other neighborhoods were completely devastated and may never be the same. We’d be foolish to think that Sandy was a once-in-a-lifetime storm. Instead, Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Irene are what we can expect more often in our future with climate change a clear and present danger. Read more: New York Daily New

Pig faces ‘big bad’ co-op

Say it oink so! Residents of a Queens co-op say the pet pig rooting around their courtyard isn’t kosher — and are determined to get the city to evict the unwelcome ungulate from the complex. Read more: New York Post

Some schools in New York, Connecticut to lengthen class time

New York and Connecticut are among five states set to announce Monday that they will add at least 300 hours of learning time to the calendar in some schools beginning next year. Read more: CBS New York

 No ‘fiscal cliff’ deal without higher rates, Geithner say

The Obama administration will entertain any Republican plans to avoid a so-called “fiscal cliff” at year’s end, but Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says the Bush-era tax cuts for top incomes must go. Read more: CNN

 

 

 

Cuomo launches commission to investigate utility companies’ storm response


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

After publicly criticizing New York utility companies following Superstorm Sandy, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order today, which forms a commission to investigate and study the state’s power companies and their preparedness, reaction and management of storms over the past two years.

“From Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, to Hurricane Sandy, over the past two years New York has experienced some of the worst natural disasters in our state’s history,” said Cuomo. “As we adjust to the reality of more frequent major weather incidents, we must study and learn from these past experiences to prepare for the future.”

Under the Moreland Act, the commission can subpoena and examine witnesses under oath. In addition to reviewing how the utilities dealt with significant storms, it will also “make specific recommendations to reform and modernize oversight, regulation and management of New York’s power delivery services.”

One of the utilities the commission will be investigating includes the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA). Today, a class action lawsuit was filed against the power company for its response to Sandy outages.

 

 

Better be prepared


| letters@queenscourier.com

On Wednesday, September 21, 1938, the day dawned cloudy, rainy and very humid in the New York City/Long Island region. The weather forecast for that day was for heavy rain and moderate gale force winds, but nothing more. The region had no idea that a monster Category 3 hurricane was moving rapidly up the coast from just east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, at nearly 60 mph. The weather forecasters did not even expect this tropical tempest to affect our region.

By early that afternoon the storm slammed into the region, displaying its murderous and destructive fury. Winds in the metropolitan area were sustained at 50-60 mph, with gusts over 95 mph, causing widespread destruction in the city and its outer boroughs. Torrential rains flooded streets, highways and subways, bringing transportation to a halt. Thousands of trees were uprooted and destroyed, damaging homes, businesses and automobiles. Three people died in the city as a result of the hurricane, but nearly 100 people on Long Island were killed. Fire Island was completely submerged by tides 15-20 feet above normal, along with waves as high as 25 feet. Winds on Long Island were clocked as high as 120 mph, causing horrific damage. This vicious storm caused a total of nearly $400 million in damage and its final death toll was 680 people from New Jersey through New England, with nearly 2,385 people injured, and thousands left homeless.

The question is, could we see a repeat scenario similar to 1938? The answer is YES! We must be prepared to deal with that possibility at some point. Last year, Hurricane Irene was a wakeup call for all of us here in the Northeast. We must enter every hurricane season fully prepared and have all of the necessary supplies in stock. Hurricanes are nature’s most awesome displays of fury. It is better to be safe than sorry.

John Amato

Fresh Meadows

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Five people killed, including two children, in fiery Queens SUV rollover horror

Five people were killed, including two children, after leaving a Nigerian heritage celebration in Queens early Sunday when their speeding SUV, swerving after blowing through two red lights, slammed into a concrete pillar, rolled over and burst into flames, police and witnesses said. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

Con Ed customers could pay for ’08 death blast

Ed customers could be slapped with part of the bill for a horrific 2008 gas explosion that killed a Queens man and left his daughter needing medical care for the rest of her life. The family of Edgar Zaldumbide won a $20 million settlement from Con Ed, according to documents obtained by The Post. Read more: [New York Post] 

Beach replenishment coming to Rockaway

Sand-starved sections of Rockaway Beach, battered by erosion and Hurricane Irene, could be replenished later this year, according to the city Parks Department. The Bloomberg administration made a last-minute $3 million allocation to the agency’s budget to pay for the project. The money will be used to transfer sand dredged from the East Rockaway Inlet by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

Queens man dead after ATV crash 

A Queens man is dead after police say he crashed his ATV into a metal pole Saturday night. Investigators said 33-year-old Dave Thomas was riding his ATV on the sidewalk on Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica when he hit the pole. Read more: [NY1] 

Annual Colombian Day Parade held in Jackson Heights 

A sea of red, blue and yellow filled the streets of Jackson Heights Sunday for the annual Colombian Day Parade. More than 75,000 people lined the parade route along Northern Boulevard waving their flags. The sounds of cumbia and salsa filled the air, along with the aroma of traditional Colombian food and treats. Read more: [NY1] 

Tree maintenance at root of problem


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Bob Friedrich

If a tree falls in Glen Oaks Village, and no one assumes responsibility for clearing it, does it cause damage?

Homeowners in the eastern Queens co-op are irritated over what they feel is a lack of effort by the city to clear dangerous tree roots and repair damaged sidewalks.

Bob Friedrich, president of Glen Oaks Village, the largest garden apartment co-op in New York, demands the city take action.

New legislation, initiated by Friedrich and reinforced by Senator Tony Avella, would modify the current law that forbids residents from pruning street trees — ones located between the sidewalk and the road — holding the city responsible for damage done within co-ops by falling branches.

According to Friedrich, Hurricane Irene incurred over $59,000 in damages to Glen Oaks Village, ripping out roughly 100 trees and flooding several residents’ basements.

Since the storm, Friedrich said he has asked the city to remove the visible stumps and turned-up roots – something they promised to do within 90 days of the hurricane, according to Friedrich. He says the city has yet to take action.

“I refer to this area as ‘Queens, the forgotten borough,’” said Friedrich. “If you drive through Manhattan, you see all the resources they have. Bike lanes and trees. We can’t even get our curbs repaired. The city is inattentive to the needs of people in Queens.”

According to Friedrich, the city is accountable for repairing sidewalks damaged by trees during storms when it occurs in front of a single-family home. Friedrich feels this is an “issue of fairness and equality,” as according to him, residents of co-ops are responsible for paying higher taxes.

“The city has been doing an abysmal job and we’re really fed up,” said Friedrich. “We need them to step up to the plate.”

Friedrich added that many of Glen Oaks Village’s residents are senior citizens, vulnerable to falls and at risk of tripping over lifted tree roots.

According to a representative from the Department of Parks and Recreation, the city removes hanging limbs, dead trees and tree debris located on public property, including public sidewalks.

While property owners are responsible for sidewalk maintenance, owner-occupied, one-, two-, and three-family homes with sidewalks affected by the roots of curbside trees are eligible for free repair under the Parks Department’s Trees and Sidewalks program.

Since the program began in 2005, more than $18 million has been allocated to fixing over 9,200 trees and sidewalks throughout the city, including nearly $9 million to repairing damages in Queens.

 

New sand on Rockaway Peninsula beaches


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder is seeking community input and calling for a public hearing on the projected maintenance dredging in the East Rockaway Inlet. The public hearing would involve key stakeholders, including residents, local businesses and community organizations.

“The potential for new sand on our beaches is welcomed news to our community,” Goldfeder said. “Our beaches got hit badly by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee,” he said. “The damage has left our community in desperate need of help. We should be doing everything possible to restore our beaches, not only for our local families but for the thousands of tourists that come to enjoy the very best beaches in New York City and the local businesses who depend on them.”

The project will potentially be carried out by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is expected to involve the removal of approximately 240,000 cubic yards of sand from the East Rockaway Inlet, Goldfeder said. The removed sand would then be available for placement along the Rockaway Beach shoreline.

The new sand would only be a temporary resolution, Goldfeder said, adding that he was still urging the Army Corps of Engineers to expedite their studies and examine the possibility of installing rock jetties.

Queens’ Morning Roundup – 11/04/2011: Queens Officials To Stand Against Swastika Graffiti


| jlane@queenscourier.com

The Round Up

Queens Officials To Stand Against Swastika Graffiti

Four swastikas showed up on the walls of the Jackson Heights branch of the Queens Library Thursday. At least one more was painted on the library branch in East Elmhurst, and another was etched on the door of a synagogue on 88th Street. Police believe the incidents in three separate locations are related. They are being investigated by the hate crimes taskforce. Local leaders plan to hold a news conference Friday to denounce this kind of hateful vandalism. Read More: NY1

 

‘Fresh Meadows Rules’ Facebook group unites former residents from around the world in Queens

More than 150 former Fresh Meadows residents reunited last week to celebrate the planned neighborhood many remember as a small utopia tucked away in Queens. The gathering, organized through a Facebook group called Fresh Meadows Rules, brought residents from all over the country and even overseas back to Queens to meet up with childhood pals and revisit local landmarks. Read More: Daily News

 

Melanie Webb, Long Island City woman, pleads guilty to shooting slay of her sister,Tara, on victim’s birthday

A Long Island City woman pleaded guilty Thursday to fatally shooting her sister on the victim’s 27th birthday.Melanie Webb, 25, also shot Tara Webb’s boyfriend, Terrell Carmichael, on March 26 in the Long Island City apartment they all shared, she admitted. A source close to the case said Webb shot her sister Tara in her bed and turned her gun on Carmichael, hitting him twice in the torso in the shower. Read More: Daily News

 

Queens high school students to help upstate NY rebuild after Hurricane Irene ravaged homes and businesses

Students at a Bellerose high school will soon get a lesson in what it means to build stronger communities — one nail at a time. The Habitat for Humanity club at the Queens High School of Teaching, Liberal Arts and the Sciences is raising money and supplies for a trip to upstate New York to rebuild homes damaged by Hurricane Irene. The group plans to partner with a yet to-be-determined Binghamton high school by the end of the year. It also plans to donate cleaning and school supplies. Read More: Daily News

 

FEMA extends deadline for Hurricane Irene victims

There’s a ray of hope for those affected by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in August. On Oct. 31, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced a deadline extension for individuals seeking disaster assistance. The new FEMA registration deadline is Dec. 15. Read More: Staten Island Live

Ozone Park couple says unstable tree unsafe


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of The Queens Courier

Hurricane Irene may be a thing of the past, but one Ozone Park couple says they live in constant fear of what the summer storm left behind.

David and Lillian Hughes told The Courier that they’re worried a strong wind may topple an 80-foot unstable tree outside their home on 107th Street.

“The tree is very large, and it’s going to fall at one point when the wind hits it in the right way. We don’t know when that’s going to happen, and we’re worried,” David said. “If that tree comes into the house, it’s going to smash the whole house. It could cave in and kill somebody.”

Residents since 1980, David, 62, and his wife Lillian, 55, first noticed that the tree was unsteady immediately after Hurricane Irene. David called 9-1-1 and was told it was not an emergency. He then called 3-1-1 several times and reported the situation to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

“The curb cracked, and I actually saw it going up and down about two inches. The dirt around the tree was also going up and down at the same time. The entire tree — the roots, the trunk, and the branches — was wobbling and swaying back and forth toward the street and toward my house. I got alarmed because I thought that at any second the tree could collapse,” he said.

David said that if the tree fell, it would either fall onto their house or go the other direction and knock out the power lines across the street.

He said he’s reached out to the police, to the Parks Department, to Assemblymember Michael Miller, and now to the press. But despite constantly being vigilant in the matter, David said he’s reached a dead end.

“Almost two months have gone by now, and nothing has been done. I don’t want to live like this,” he said. “I know I can’t legally try to take down the tree myself, so I can’t do anything about it. On the other hand, if the Parks Department doesn’t do anything, what am I supposed to do — wait until the tree falls and then say ‘Well, I told you so?’ That’s kind of a backwards way of doing things.”

The Parks Department said the Hughes family last filed a report on August 28. The tree was deemed healthy following an inspection on August 31, according to spokesperson Trish Bertuccio.

Bertuccio said the tree could be checked again, but the Hughes would have to file a formal request.

“It looks healthy, but the fact of the matter is the root system is not healthy. It’s not strong enough to hold the tree up,” David said. “It’s not a question of the tree itself. It’s a question of the root system that supports the tree. I can’t X-ray the ground, but these are the facts that make the difference. I pray something is done before it’s too late.”

Neighbor Francisco Rivera said he witnessed the tree swaying after Hurricane Irene and is aware of the possible danger.

“It’s already moving,” he said. “If another wind is strong enough, who knows what kind of damage can be done — and then what? Everybody is going to feel sorry.”

Disaster Recovery Center to close


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Homeowners in Queens have only one more day to visit their local Disaster Recovery Center (DRC).

The center – located at 144-06 94th Street in Jamaica – will close on Wednesday, October 5 at 5 p.m., according to the New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM).

The DRC in Queens opened on Monday, September 26 after Hurricane Irene in order to provide residents seeking help with FEMA disaster recovery specialists. The specialists were able to provide residents with more information about state disaster aid and disaster unemployment programs.

But although the center will close, residents can still apply for federal funding with FEMA until October 28.

To register, call 800-621-3362 or visitwww.disasterassitance.gov. Be sure to provide your social security number and insurance information.

FEMA to help homeowners after hurricane


| mchan@queenscourier.com

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Queens homeowners who suffered damages as a direct result of last month’s Hurricane Irene may now qualify for federal assistance.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declared the county a disaster area, allowing individual residents, business owners and non-profits to apply for reimbursement from necessary expenses and compensation from repairs.

“We went out and performed what we call a preliminarily damage assessment, where we go and look at neighborhoods that were affected based on 3-1-1 [calls],” said FEMA spokesperson Gary Weidner. “Queens warranted enough damages to qualify for federal assistance.”

For those who qualify, FEMA aids in temporary housing, vehicle repairs, home renovations not covered by insurance — including household items like room furnishings and appliances — and other disaster-related medical and dental costs.

Before a determination on eligibility can be made, FEMA will first send an inspector to investigate damage claims. The inspector will then file a report.

“It may not make them whole again, but what it will do is help make the house safe and secure,” Weidner said.

As of September 15, FEMA announced that it will also provide assistance to residents who have become unemployed because of the hurricane. Under the Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program — among a few eligibilities — those who were injured in the disaster and are unable to work, or those whose workplace or mode of transportation were destroyed, can apply for weekly benefit payments.

The deadline for the DUA program is October 12. Benefits are payable through March 4, 2012. To apply, first file for regular employment insurance with the New York State Department of Labor at 1-888-209-8124.

To register for housing assistance or for more information, call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or visit www.disasterassistance.gov. Be sure to have your social security number and insurance information.

Assemblymember Miller honors heroes of Hurricane Irene


| jlane@queenscourier.com

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Assemblymember Mike Miller and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley recently visited the joint meeting of the Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol (G-COP) and the Glendale Property Owners Association.

Both elected officials honored those individuals who volunteered their time during Hurricane Irene. Among those honored were volunteers who directed traffic when power was lost, assisted with the removal of downed trees and power lines, and contributed to the clean-up effort.