Tag Archives: hurricane sandy

PHOTOS: Eerie sand dunes created in the Rockaways after Sandy


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by Stephane Missier

Photographer Stephane Missier took these photos in the parking lot of Jacob Riis Park in the Rockaways. The man-made sand dunes, which Missier compares to an “eerie lunar landscape,” are made out of sifted sand from the streets following Superstorm Sandy.

“Polished by the cold winter wind, these artificial cones formed an eerie lunar landscape. The presence of all kinds of construction and hauling trucks on the site as well as conveyor belts, generators, watch towers, and pole lights, gave me the impression of being on another some kind of a spatial station. The wind was pretty strong too and really accentuated that lunar feel.” Missier wrote on his website.

 

See more photos of the sand dunes here.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Clear in the morning, then partly cloudy. High of 37 with a windchill as low as 19F. Breezy. Winds from the West at 15 to 20 mph with gusts to 30 mph. Friday night: Clear in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 28F with a windchill as low as 19. Breezy. Winds from the WNW at 15 to 20 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: First Look Film Series

This annual showcase at the Museum of the Moving Image presents groundbreaking international cinema. Many of this year’s films take the form of journeys—geographical, emotional and artistic—with 26 works from a dozen countries. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Sandy-battered Rockaway businesses struggle to pay rent to absentee landlord

A pair of Rockaway stores that survived floods, tens of thousand dollars in losses and the exodus of customers due to Sandy now face a new challenge — battling an absentee landlord who wants them to pay up or move out. Read more: New York Daily News

House sets Friday vote for Sandy aid after criticism

The House is headed for a vote on aid for Superstorm Sandy victims after House Speaker John Boehner mollified Republicans from New York and New Jersey upset with his decision to cancel action on the bill. Read more: ABC New York

Meng, Jeffries among 84 new Congress members sworn in

New York City has two new members of Congress. Hakeem Jeffries, representing the Eighth District in Brooklyn and Queens, which includes Bedford-Stuyvesant, Coney Island and Howard Beach, and Grace Meng, of the Sixth District in Queens, which stretches from Ridgewood to Bayside, were among the 84 new members of Congress sworn in Thursday. Read more: NY1

Special election to determine replacement for Sanders’ Council Seat

Voters will be asked to head to the polls and choose a candidate in a special election to replace outgoing City Councilman James Sanders Jr. Read more: NY1

Attempted murder at Long Island mall

Police on Long Island say a man tried to kill another man in a mall parking lot. Read more: Fox New York

House chooses Boehner as speaker again despite dissent

Despite a rocky few weeks during the “fiscal cliff” fight, John Boehner won re-election as speaker of the House of Representatives on Thursday and will again lead Republicans as they take on the White House over federal spending. Read more: Reuters 

 

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Overcast in the morning, then partly cloudy. High of 36 with a windchill as low as 18. Winds from the NW at 5 to 10 mph. Thursday night: Partly cloudy. Low of 27 with a windchill as low as 18. Winds from the West at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: There There 

There There  is a wildly unpredictable theatrical roller coaster about being the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong things. Christopher Walken, on tour in Russia with a solo show, mysteriously falls off a ladder and is unable to perform. Karen, who apparently proofread the script once, is asked to fill in. On until January 12 at the Chocolate Factory in Long Island City. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Queens schools damaged by Sandy welcome students back

On the first school day of 2013, students at P.S. 207 were finally back in their building. Read more: NY1

Off-duty cop charged with DWI in Queens

An off-duty New York City police officer was arrested Wednesday and charged with driving while intoxicated and fleeing an accident in Queens. Read more: CBS New York

Boehner sets House votes on Sandy aid after Republican attacks

House Speaker John Boehner abruptly reversed course on Wednesday and set a timetable to approve $60 billion in Superstorm Sandy relief, after fellow Republicans including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie heaped scorn on his cancellation of an earlier vote. Read more: Reuters

Hillary Clinton released from NYC hospital after being treated for blood clot 

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was discharged from New York Presbyterian Hospital Wednesday evening and her medical team is confident she will “make a full recovery.” Read more: CBS New York

Chef sues Citi Field food contractor Aramark

He says they took him right out of the old ball game. A former Citi Field chef has sued stadium food contractor Aramark because they fired him after he took a short time off after suffering chest pain, according to a Brooklyn federal court lawsuit. Read more: New York Post

New York City launches $500K grant program for local media and entertainment small businesses

Lights, camera, money. The city has launched a $500,000 training grant program for local small businesses that specialize in media and entertainment. Read more: New York Daily News

Congress ushering in new members, with old divide

Congress is ushering in the new and the old – dozens of eager freshmen determined to change Washington and the harsh reality of another stretch of bitterly divided government. Read more: AP

Local pols angry over Sandy bill delay


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Though the House of Representatives managed to pass legislation before falling over the fiscal cliff, it didn’t vote on a $60 billion Sandy relief package before the end of the current house session on Wednesday.

But this afternoon Speaker John Boehner said that the House would vote on the storm aid by January 15.

That statement followed a chorus of criticism from local politicians who know how desperate their constituents are for the relief money.

“This failure to come to the aid of Americans following a severe and devastating natural disaster is unprecedented. The fact that days continue to go by while people suffer, families are out of their homes, and men and women remain jobless and struggling during these harsh winter months is a dereliction of duty. When American citizens are in need we come to their aid. That tradition was abandoned in the House last night,” said Governors Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie in a joint statement.

Katrina emergency relief legislation was passed less than month from the time the hurricane hit. It’s been 66 days since Sandy devastated parts of the Northeast.

“New Yorkers continue to suffer from the havoc Sandy wreaked upon our region, and they desperately need help now,” said U.S. congressmember-elect Grace Meng, who will be sworn in tomorrow in Washington D.C.

“I call on House Republicans to reconsider their misguided decision, and immediately hold a vote in the opening days of the new congress. People cannot wait any longer,” she continued.

The next House session, which starts Thursday, will include Meng and the other newly elected members.

Congressmember Steve Israel, who represents areas of Queens and Long Island, echoed the outrage of other politicians.

“In the very last minute they pulled the rug from under us,” he told Fox 5 New York. “When it came to New Yorkers and people in NJ they said no. It is simply indefensible. There is going to be a delay in getting these funds to the people who need them. It was John Boehner and Eric Cantor who turned their backs on New Yorkers and New Jerseyans.”

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Overcast. High of 36 with a windchill as low as 14F. Winds from the NW at 10 to 15 mph. Wednesday night: Overcast. Low of 25. Winds from the WNW at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: 3D Theater Presentation: The Last Reef

At the New York Hall of Science’s 3D Theater Presentation: The Last Reef fly across iridescent tropical reefs, brush through a cloud of a million jellyfish,and visit an alien world where the tiniest creatures support the greatest predators. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

House staves off fiscal cliff, but more money squabbles lie ahead

After exhaustive negotiations that strained the country’s patience, the House approved a bill to avert the dreaded fiscal cliff, staving off widespread tax increases and deep spending cuts. Read more: CNN

Thieves strike Howard Beach church twice

On New Year’s Day at St. Helen’s Church parishioners prayed, but it was their faith in their fellow man that may have been shaken. Read more: ABC New York

City Council to DA: Sandy looters should be ‘sentenced in the most aggressive way possible given their disgraceful nature’

City Council members want lowlifes who took advantage of the devastation from Hurricane Sandy to commit crimes to pay a high price for their deeds. Read more: New York Daily News

New York City school bus strike averted, for now

New York City officials are breathing a sigh of relief after a school bus drivers’ union decided not to strike. Read more: ABC New York

New York area lawmakers lash House GOP leaders for inaction on Superstorm Sandy relief bill

New York area-lawmakers in both parties erupted in anger late Tuesday night after learning the House Republican leadership decided to allow the current term of Congress to end without holding a vote on aid for victims of Superstorm Sandy. Read more: CBS News

New York County denies request for names of gun permit holders

Authorities in a suburban county north of New York City said on Tuesday they will refuse to release names of local gun permit holders to a newspaper that has been publishing the identities of thousands of license-holding residents. Read more: Reuters

Christmas tree recycling begins Wednesday in NYC

The holiday season is officially behind us now, and it’s time to recycle that Christmas tree. Read more: CBS New York

 

2012: A year in pictures


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Breezy Point Sandy

JANUARY

Fire bomber charged in hate crime: Ray Lazier Lengend, 40, confessed to a string of five fire bombings, four in Queens and one on Long Island. No one was injured in the attacks and Lengend was charged with a hate crime.

Queens native named Obama chief of staff: Forest Hills native Jacob Lew, an orthodox Jew, was named President Barack Obama’s chief of staff in a ceremony at the White House on January 14. Lew, 56, grew up on Yellowstone Boulevard and graduated from Forest Hills High School in 1972.

Worst landlords named: A list released by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio named the 50 worst landlords throughout the city, including 15 with dozens of properties in Queens. The dishonor roll, based on complaints and violations over the past year, was compiled to warn residents searching for apartments.

Flushing nurses protest: About 200 registered nurses at Flushing Hospital rallied outside the facility after their contracts expired in December. The nurses protested for better healthcare, pay and pension benefits.

FEBRUARY

Giants win Super Bowl: For the second time in five years, the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Eli Manning was named MVP of the Giants 21-17 victory.

Con Ed heroes: Four Con Edison employees — John Kane, John McDonnell, Michael Santeramo and Anthony Farmighetti — rushed to the aid of the victim of a violent purse snatching in Bayside before chasing after the suspect.

NY goes Lin-sane: New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin took New York and Madison Square Garden by storm after entering the team’s starting lineup in February. Lin-sanity took over the city as the unheralded, undrafted Harvard graduate played like an MVP and helped lead the Knicks to the playoffs.

FreshDirect heads to Bronx: FreshDirect, an online fresh food grocer, announced they will move their operations from Long Island City and leave the borough for larger facilities in the Bronx, taking with them 2,000 Queens jobs.

MARCH

Heejun Han on ‘American Idol’: Flushing-native Heejun Han sang his way into the hearts of millions of Americans each week on the hit singing competition. Han made it all the way to the top nine before being eliminated.

Peninsula Hospital closure announced: Bankruptcy and instability at Far Rockaway’s Peninsula Hospital forced the medical center to close its doors leaving the peninsula with just one hospital, St. John’s Episcopal.

FedEx moves to LIC: FedEx announced plans to open a new, 14,000-square-foot FedEx Ground distribution center costing $56 million on Borden Avenue in LIC. The facility will be larger and contain more automated package sorting systems than the existing station in Maspeth, allowing the company to better serve the area.

Woodhaven drug ring busted by FBI: A drug ring headquartered in Woodhaven known as the Perez Organization was busted by the FBI for allegedly distributing over 20 kilograms of heroin, possessing a street value of around $2.75 million, to drug dealers in Queens and Long Island.

APRIL

Driver arrested after leaving toddler on empty school bus: A private bus driver was arrested on April 12 after she left her vehicle unattended in Corona with a toddler still aboard. Police broke a window on the bus and removed two-year-old Samantha Bustamante, who they believe was left alone for roughly 15 minutes. Bustamante — who was in good physical condition, according to EMS — was taken back to the 110th Precinct, where she was reunited with her mother. The bus driver, 62-year-old Ana Garcia, was charged with failure to exercise control of a minor.

Hero firefighter saves woman: Firefighter James Goelz became a hero when he made his first on-the-job rescue, saving an elderly, unconscious woman from her Lindenwood apartment, which became a blazing inferno on April 6.

Kung fu fighter thwarts sex assault: Good Samaritan Mike Novak thwarted a sexual assault in Sunnyside on April 8, when he ran to the aid of his female neighbor, who was being groped by a man in the bushes down the block from his house. The 54-year-old kung fu fighter chased the perp away, then pulled the victim out of the bush and stayed by her side until authorities arrived.

MAY

Historic carousel spins once more: The Forest Park Carousel held its grand reopening on May 26 after nearly four years of being shuttered. Hundreds of visitors, both children and adults, were able to take another spin on the historic, century-old merry-go-round.

Bayside cop arrested after heroin bust: Bayside cop Devon Daniels was arrested on May 15 for his role in allegedly aiding drug dealers. The 30 year old, who was assigned to the 111th Precinct, allegedly communicated with the leader of a Jamaica-based heroin distribution organization on numerous occasions to ask for money and to borrow vehicles, authorities said.

Gruesome murder in Bayside home: A Bayside woman was found dead in her basement with lacerations to her neck after the man she lived with allegedly killed her, set fire to their shared home and tried to hang himself in the couple’s bedroom closet. The gruesome scene occurred on May 23, claiming the life of Eun Hee Sin, 57, and sending a 56-year-old unidentified Asian man to the hospital, where he was said to be in stable condition.

JUNE

Queens kid places third in national spelling bee: Bayside Hills whiz kid Arvind Mahankali won third place at the televised Scripps National Spelling Bee for the second consecutive year. The 12 year old’s spellbinding run ended when he misspelled “schwannoma,” a German name-based word that means a type of cancer. Mahankali, a seventh grader from J.H.S. 74, took home $7,500.

First no-hitter for Mets: Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in Mets history on June 1, when the New York team won 8-0 over the St. Louis Cardinals. Santana walked five and struck out eight.

Willets Point development details announced: Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced specifics of the Willets Point project, which includes retail space, a hotel and quicker access to the Van Wyck Expressway. More than 12,000 construction jobs and 7,000 permanent jobs would come from the proposed Willets Point renovation, he said, which is expected to bring $4.2 billion in economic activity over the next 30 years. A new component, Willets West, was also designated from a portion of the Citi Field parking lot to become one-million square feet of space for retail, entertainment and dining.

JULY

Con Ed lockout: As temperatures across the city spiked, Con Edison locked out more than 8,000 workers over heated  contract talks — leaving 5,000 managers responsible for maintaining electric, gas and steam service  for the company’s 3.2 million customers. The power giant blamed the stalemate on leaders of the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 1-2 — the union representing roughly 8,000 Con Edison employees — who refused to accept its offer to extend their members’ contract for two  weeks. After a major push to end negotiations from Governor Andrew Cuomo, locked-out Con Ed  workers returned to their posts following a tentative agreement between the utility provider and representatives from the UWUA Local 1-2, ending the month-long stalemate.

Former pol arrested: Former Queens Assemblymember Jimmy Meng, the father of newly appointed Congressmember Grace Meng, was arrested on a federal wire fraud charge for allegedly attempting to scam $80,000 in cash from a state court defendant. Meng allegedly promised the defendant — who sought the former elected official’s help after being charged with state tax crimes — that his sentence would be reduced to one year if he paid prosecutors $20,000 each in bribes, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. Federal prosecutors said Meng offered to act as the middle man, instructing the individual to conceal and deliver the $80,000 payout in a fruit basket. The government investigation, however, uncovered no evidence the past politician even contacted prosecutors, and officials said Meng planned to keep the bribe money for himself.

Soda ban: Tensions fizzed over when locals expressed their distaste for the city’s proposed ban on large, sugary beverages at a public hearing on July 24.  “Will the government be telling me when to go to bed next?” asked Councilmember Dan Halloran. “Or how big my steak should be? How many potato chips I can eat? After all, it’s all in the name of my health. And clearly the government knows what’s best for me.” The soda ban will halt the sale of sugary bottled and fountain drinks, such as teas, sodas and sports drinks, of more than 16 ounces in every store and restaurant with letter grades, movie theaters, sports venues, delis and food trucks and carts. Diet sodas, calorie-free drinks, and drinks with at least 50 percent milk are exempted from the regulation.

Summer crime wave:  As temperatures soared, so did crime rates. And Queens did not remain bulletproof. Between July 4 and July 7, four deaths occurred throughout the borough, one man critically wounded and an MTA cop suffered a sight-threatening injury. On early Saturday, July 7, three men were fatally shot, and a fourth wounded, in Jamaica. Police said there were two shooters — one of whom fired 63 rounds from an AK-47. This was one of several shootings or stabbings to take place over what was considered the Fourth of July weekend. Councilmember Peter Vallone, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said this spike in citywide crime was due to a decrease in the amount of on-duty cops and a spike in criminals — mainly due to budget cuts. These factors — along with soaring temperatures — were causing a higherthan-normal spike in crimes, Vallone said.

AUGUST

Sikh temple shooting: The August 5 shooting at an Oak Creek, Wisconsin gurdwara that killed six and wounded four struck close to home for the tens of thousands of Sikhs in Queens. Of the at least 300,000 Sikhs in the United States, between 30,000 to 40,000 live in New York City, with the bulk residing in Queens. Elected officials and religious leaders gathered at the Sikh Cultural Society — where thousands of Sikhs congregate weekly — the day after the shooting rampage inside the Wisconsin Sikh Temple to offer condolences to the community and show support. Shooter Wade Michael Page, an army veteran and alleged white supremacist, was killed at the scene. Post-9/11, the country experienced a large spike in hate crimes against Sikhs, said Amardeep Singh, director of programs at the Sikh Coalition. While incidents have slowed in recent years, Singh said discrimination in schools and the work place still persists.

Fire at home under construction: More than 100 firefighters from 33 units responded to the three-alarm blaze on Tuesday, August 14, at a Douglaston home, which was under renovations. The 39-12 Douglaston Parkway dwelling received 44 complaints since March 2008 from callers saying the ongoing construction work being done at the site exceeded the scope of the approved permit, according to the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB). No one was in the house at the time, and no one was severely injured, an official said. While all complaints made against the home were listed as closed, homeowner David Wei Huang was pinned for two violations from the DOB and 17 from the Environmental Control Board (ECB). Of those violations, nine were still outstanding, according to the DOB, and were related to the ongoing construction. Huang was issued a $2,500 fi ne when construction at the site was found not to be in compliance with approved plans and another $1,200 for failing to safeguard the public and his property. There were other violations for working with an expired permit, the DOB said.

Huntley surrenders: State Senator Shirley Huntley pleaded not guilty to charges of falsifying business records and tampering with evidence in the first degree, which are felonies, and conspiracy in the fifth degree, a misdemeanor, after officials said she covered up the funneling of nearly $30,000 in state funds to a non-profit she helped establish. Huntley turned herself in to the State Attorney General’s regional office on Monday, August 27, and was arraigned later that day. Voters gave Huntley the boot in September, when she decisively lost the Democratic primary to challenger James Sanders Jr., who was elected to the 10th District seat in November.

 SEPTEMBER

Rare tornado strikes Breezy Point: A tornado struck Breezy Point during a late summer down pour on Saturday, September 8. The twister damaged parts of the Breezy Point Surf Club, but many were thankful the club had been mostly closed up by that point. “We’re lucky the storm hit this weekend and not last weekend,” Councilmember Eric Ulrich said, who surveyed the damage in the area shortly after the storm. “Because last weekend the Surf Club was filled with people.”

“Look!” campaign promotes safety: A Department of Transportation (DOT) campaign to promote safety when texters crossed the street was launched in September. The program includes a sign that reads “LOOK!” in crosswalks throughout the city, to remind pedestrians to proceed with caution. “New Yorkers are driven to distraction with their smart phones, and the simple act of looking can prevent thousands of crashes and injuries every year,” said DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “LOOK! is a message to all New Yorkers that safety is in the eye of the beholder and everyone needs to keep an eye out for each other on our streets.”

Ulrich wins primary: Councilmember Eric Ulrich defeated Forest Hills lawyer Juan Reyes in a Senate District 15 Republican Primary on September 13. In the weeks leading up to the election, the Reyes campaign sent out a string of mailers attacking Ulrich’s reputation in the City Council and made anti-gay statements. Ulrich would go on to unsuccessfully challenge incumbent State Senator Joseph Addabbo in the general election. The race became one of the most contested in Queens.

Serial arsonist is nabbed: A suspect wanted for setting 13 fi res in Flushing and Murray Hill during a three-week period was arraigned on September 15. Thien K. Dinh, 43, was charged with two counts of second-degree arson, four counts of third-degree arson, 13 counts of fi rst-degree reckless endangerment and thirddegree burglary. Dinh admitted to the crimes, which included a fire at 143-01 45th Avenue near Bowne Street on August 20 that gutted adjacent businesses and totaled the four-story multiple family dwelling.

OCTOBER

Four Richmond Hill High grads die in crash: Four teenagers from South Ozone Park and Richmond Hill were killed in the morning hours of October 8, when the car they were riding in careened off the Southern State Parkway and threw them from the vehicle. The driver, Joseph Beer, 17, survived the crash and only had a learner’s permit, authorities said. The teen was later indicted by the Nassau County District Attorney on a slew of charges that included allegations he was high at the time of the crash.

Cop, driver killed in deadly rampage: An ex-con fatally shot Nassau County police officer Arthur Lopez near the Cross Island Parkway before fleeing on Tuesday, October 23. Darrell Fuller, 33, then took off and carjacked Raymond Facey, who was shot and killed. The incident resulted in a manhunt throughout southeast Queens searching for the perp, who was later found with a bullet wound in his shoulder. He was then taken to Jamaica Hospital before being transferred to Nassau County to be charged.

Cannibal cop: NYPD officer Gilberto Valle was nabbed for plotting to kidnap and eat more at least 100 women. The six-year veteran, who lived in Forest Hills, was charged with accessing the federal National Crime Information Center database to gain information without authorization, and agreeing to kidnap a woman to sell her to an individual for no less than $5,000, according to court documents.

Sandy strikes seaside south: Superstorm Sandy shut down much of Queens beginning on Monday, October 29 and carrying into the next day. Damage was felt, at different levels, throughout the borough. Trees came down on to houses in the northeast, in one case killing a man; parts of Long Island City’s water front arose and flooded several buildings. Rockaway and Howard Beach were some of the hardest hit areas however. The channel in Howard Beach poured on to Cross Bay Boulevard and knocked out some businesses for weeks. In Rockaway, the ocean poured over and met with Jamaica Bay.

NOVEMBER

Breezy Point residents search for hope: During Superstorm Sandy, the majority of Breezy Point homes received extensive water damage, and 111 homes burned to the ground after an electrical fire sparked. Residents, left at a loss, tried to receive as much relief as possible from organizations such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Red Cross, and many more. Kieren Burke was one of many who lost his home in the fire, and he spent some time searching for anything left behind — namely his wife’s wedding ring. Burke spent the storm in his parents’ house nearby, and ran outside once he saw the blazes engulf the streets, but he was only able to save a few things before his home was gone.

Obama visits New York after Sandy: Alongside New York’s most prominent officials, President Obama surveyed damage in the areas hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy. The President arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Thursday, November 15, and was greeted by Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan. He then surveyed the damage to the Rockaway peninsula by air, and went through Staten Island on foot.

The Kings of Queens: Over 400 guests gathered at Terrace on the Park in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to mingle at one of the largest networking events in the borough and honor this year’s “Kings of Queens.” The fifth annual Queens Courier event, held on Thursday, November 15 featured special honoree, Steven Lacy, Fox 5 news anchor, and honored dozens of top businessmen throughout Queens.

DECEMBER

Boardwalk future: Sandy ripped mercilessly through the Rockaways, destroying an iconic haven enjoyed by all: the boardwalk. The community came together and urged that their boardwalk be rebuilt better than ever before, so no storm can ever do this again. Mayor Michael Bloomberg responded with a new plan, hopefully to be in place by next summer. Wooden planks will be a thing of the past, and a concrete boardwalk will be put into place. Locals, although pleased, still asked for sea walls to further protect their home.

Bayside murders: A Bayside man was named in an indictment charging him with two separate counts of second-degree murder. Gregory Cucchiara, 36, was charged for beating his mother over the head before submerging her in water, and another 15 months later when he smothered his father to death. He was being held at Rikers Island, and faces 50 years to life in prison if convicted.

Sunnyside vigil: A mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut hit home for Sunnyside residents. Little Benjamin Wheeler, 6, originally from Sunnyside, was shot and killed during the unspeakable tragedy. Dawn Hochsprung, the principal of Sandy Hook, selfl essly gave her life to the shooter while trying to save as many students as she could. Her life was also remembered at the vigil by her stepsister, who resides in Sunnyside. The massacre was the second deadliest shooting in our nation’s history, killing 26 people, 20 of who were children.

FDNY determines cause of Breezy Point, other Sandy fires


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Two months after Sandy hit, the FDNY has determined the cause of most of the serious fires that occurred during the superstorm, including the Breezy Point blaze that decimated 126 homes and damaged 22 others, Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano announced this week.

“A total of 21 serious fires occurred during the storm, destroying more than 200 homes and businesses across the city, and fire marshals have determined that most were sparked by sea water impacting electrical systems and components in and around these structures,” said Cassano.

Storm conditions also contributed to the severity of these fires because floodwaters made it difficult for authorities to reach and control them, and winds helped spread the fires, according to the FDNY.

The six-alarm Breezy Point blaze, which started around 8:30 p.m. on Monday, October 29, the night of the superstorm, started when water that came in contact with the electrical system of a one-story house at 173 Ocean Avenue. After it spread to over a hundred other homes, firefighters finally brought it under control at about 6:30 a.m the next day.

Authorities also had a difficult time responding to two significant Rockaway Beach fires during Sandy because of flooding and storm surge.

According to the FDNY, one of those blazes started when utility wires fell onto a three-story commercial and residential structure at 113-18 Rockaway Beach Boulevard during the storm, spreading to and destroying and 16 other buildings.

Another Rockaway Beach fire, at a Beach 129 Street home, was also caused by utility wires and destroyed 32 structures after authorities couldn’t reach it for several hours.

In addition to the 21 serious storm-related blazes in New York City, there were another 73 structural ones, said the FDNY.

Most of these blazes, 68, was electrical-related, 20 began because of an open flame, such as candles or a stovetop, and six started because of generators.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Overcast with ice pellets and rain in the afternoon. High of 41. Windy. Winds from the ENE at 10 to 25 mph with gusts to 35 mph. Chance of precipitation 100% . Wednesday night: Overcast with rain. Low of 39F. Windy. Winds from the ENE at 30 to 35 mph with gusts to 55 mph. Chance of rain 100% with rainfall amounts near 1.4 in. possible

EVENT of the DAY: Holiday Open House

At the Queens Country Farm Museum Holiday Open House enjoy free tours of the decorated farmhouse, craft activity for children and mulled cider. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Some Hurricane Sandy aid diverted to Gulf Coast in D.C. deal to gain Senate votes

A bill to provide $60.4 billion in disaster aid to Northeast states ravaged by Hurricane Sandy has been quietly amended to divert some of the money to Gulf Coast states recovering from a much smaller storm. Read more: New York Daily News

NWS issues advisories across tri-state as massive snowstorm heads east

n enormous storm system that dumped snow and sleet on the nation’s midsection and unleashed damaging tornadoes around the Deep South began punching its way toward the Northeast on Wednesday, slowing holiday travel. Read more: CBS New York

Webster firemen’s killer left chilling note, deaths at 3

An ex-con killed two firefighters with the same caliber and make military-style rifle used in the Connecticut school massacre after typing a note pledging to burn down his neighborhood and “do what I like doing best, killing people,” police said Tuesday as another body, believed to be the gunman’s missing sister, was found. Read more: ABC New York

City fire marshal dies behind wheel on Christmas Eve

A city fire marshal died Monday night after suffering an apparent heart attack while driving in Queens. Read more: NY1

First of its kind Museum of Mathematics open in Flatiron District

A new museum has opened its doors in New York. This one’s geared a kids, but tackles a subject not typically popular among the school-aged set. Read more: CBS New York

Catholic schools open doors to storm-tossed students

The scene at St. Patrick School in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, seemed no different from that at any other parochial school: Students stood bright-eyed and fidgety in choirlike rows around the auditorium stage, rehearsing carols for an annual Christmas pageant. Read more: New York Times

Obama to cut vacation short to deal with fiscal crisis

President Barack Obama is cutting short his Hawaiian holiday to leave for Washington on Wednesday to address the unfinished “fiscal cliff” negotiations with Congress, the White House said on Tuesday. Read more: Reuters 

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Overcast with a chance of rain in the morning, then partly cloudy. High of 45. Winds from the NNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 20%. Tuesday night: Overcast. Low of 32. Winds from the North at 5 to 15 mph.

Hurricane Sandy’s 21 most serious fires caused by sea water hitting electrical systems: FDNY

Most of the 21 serious fires that destroyed hundreds of homes during Superstorm Sandy were sparked by sea water coming into contact with electrical systems, the FDNY announced Monday. Read more: New York Daily News

Outer borough metered cabs head to NY’s highest court

This cab fight is going straight to the top. The city has received permission to bypass the Appellate Division and go directly to the state’s highest court — the Court of Appeals — to try to overturn a lower court ruling blocking a new class of 18,000 taxis that would be allowed to pick up street hails outside Manhattan. Read more: New York Post

A Christmas miracle: Queens baby miraculously survives despite mother’s rare condition

This is a Christmas full of special meaning for a young family in Queens. Read more: CBS New York

Winter storm barrels toward region

Forecasters are tracking a significant winter storm barreling toward the tri-state area, though it’s not clear whether the system will pummel the region with rain or snow when it arrives Wednesday evening. Read more: NBC New York

Report: FBI counter-terror agents investigated Occupy Wall Street

When the Occupy Wall Street movement was setting up shop in Zuccotti Park last year, the FBI was already using counter-terrorism agents to investigate it, according to a report. Read more: CBS New York

Ambushed NY firemen shot dead; two police killed elsewhere

A gunman, who spent 17 years in prison for murder, ambushed and killed two volunteer firefighters and wounded two others on Monday near Rochester, New York, as they responded to a house fire he deliberately set, police said. Read more: Reuters

2 actors we loved knowing, who seemed to know us

What a couple of mugs, sporting less-than-perfect physiques in the bargain. But was there anything lovelier than Jack Klugman or Charles Durning doing what they did for an audience? Read more: AP

 

Queens surfer who saved six during Sandy apparently drowns in Puerto Rico


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A 23-year-old Belle Harbor man, who, using his surfboard, heroically saved six people during Sandy, died in a surfing accident in Puerto Rico yesterday, according to multiple media reports.

The body of lifeguard Dylan Smith was discovered floating near his surfboard in the waters just off of Maria’s Beach in western Puerto Rican, near Rincon on Sunday morning, police told NBC New York.

Smith was pulled from the water, but attempts to resuscitate him failed. It appears that he drowned, but the U.S. Caribbean territory’s police are investigating his death.

FDNY Chief Michael Light, a family friend who knew Smith his whole life, told the Daily News that Smith went to the popular surfing spot to “unwind” and “blow off some steam.”

“The same sport — the sport of surfing — that he used to save all those people, it’s so shocking that he perished that way,” Light also told the paper.

During the night of Sandy, Smith, along with Michael McDonnell, rescued six of their neighbors trapped on a Beach 130th Street porch as houses around them burned and flood waters surged. Using a homemade rope bridge and surfboard, the pair was able to get them to safety.

Because of their heroics, People magazine named Smith and McDonnell as two of its 2012 Heroes of the Year.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Mostly cloudy in the morning, then overcast with a chance of rain. High of 39 with a windchill as low as 25F. Winds from the North at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the ESE in the afternoon. Chance of rain 60%. Monday Night: Overcast with snow and rain, then rain after midnight. Low of 37. Winds from the SE at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the ENE after midnight. Chance of precipitation 80% .

EVENT of the DAY: Jewish/Chinese Nosh Party “Woks and Lox”

Come to the Queens Kickshaw in Astoria tonight for Woks and Lox, a Jewish/Chinese nosh party! Celebrated chef Chichi Wang takes care of the menu, but there will also be Mah Jong, a Bar Mitzvah-esque sign-in board, a Chinese auction with prizes and other forms of Jewish and Chinese-inspired fun. (Auction proceeds will go to Jews for Racial & Economic Justice and the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence.). Starts at 8 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Queens lifeguard who used his surfboard for dramatic rescues during killer storm tragically drowns

A 23-year-old hero lifeguard from Queens — who used his surfboard to help save six lives as superstorm Sandy raged — drowned on Sunday in a surfing accident in Puerto Rico. Read more: New York Daily News

Search continues for Queens boy missing since Friday

A missing child alert remains in effect for a 10-year-old Queens boy. Read more: CBS New York

Recent rains worsen Queens apartments’ damage from Sandy

In a duplex in Jamaica, Queens, two families are still enduring damage from Hurricane Sandy. Read more: NY1

Gun control advocates join hands across the Brooklyn Bridge

Advocates for new measures to curb gun violence after the deadly Connecticut school attack have assembled on both sides of the Brooklyn Bridge to send a picturesque message to legislators. Read more: CBS New York

Potential school bus strike threatens ‘poverty quota’

The first quota system for a public school to be approved under the Bloomberg administration is in jeopardy of falling through due to a busing-related snag, parent leaders charge. Read more: New York Daily News

Assault weapons ban talk sparks run on gun stores

The National Rifle Association may still get its way and defeat the lawmakers calling for a ban on the sale of assault ridles, but some gun store owners say it seems their customers aren’t taking any chances. Read more: ABC News

Lawmakers see ‘fiscal cliff’ deal as elusive

With anxiety rising as the country lurches towards a “fiscal cliff,” lawmakers are increasingly skeptical about a possible deal and some predict the best possibility would be a small-scale patch because time is running out before the yearend deadline.Read more: AP

 

 

 

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

Tuesday: Overcast with rain, then a chance of rain in the afternoon. Fog early. High of 55. Winds from the South at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Tuesday night: Overcast in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 41. Breezy. Winds from the WNW at 20 to 25 mph with gusts to 30 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: Sandy Hook March and Candlelight Vigil 

We come together to mourn the loss of the children and educators who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday, December 14. Among them was 6-year-old Benjamin Andrew Wheeler, son of Francine and David Cole Wheeler, and brother of Nate. Francine resided with us in Sunnyside and, while raising her babies, was instrumental in the formation of a community of young mothers here. We will also gather to support the grieving family of Principal Dawn Hochsprung, who lost her life in a valiant attempt to save her students and colleagues. Please join as we honor them. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Political fight begins in U.S. Senate over Superstorm Sandy aid package

Democrats in the U.S. Senate on Monday began trying to push the $60.4 billion emergency spending plan for Superstorm Sandy victims through Congress by Christmas. Read more: CBS New York

Boy arrested in threat that sent school into lockout

Authorities say a 13-year-old boy has been arrested in connection with an Internet threat that sent Westbury Middle School on Long Island into lockout mode Monday. Read more: NBC New York

Getting books back into the hands of Sandy storm victims in Rockaway

Curling up with a good book has become a luxury for victims of Superstorm Sandy in Rockaway. Adults and children alike lost most of their personal possessions, including beloved book collections built over generations, in a mix of flood waters, sand and fire. Read more: New York Daily News

LIPA trustees vote to hold rates steady

Despite a possible $950 million repair bill from Superstorm Sandy, the Long Island Power Authority will not be raising rates. Read more: Fox New York

Sunnyside man stabbed to death on Staten Island

A Sunnyside man was stabbed to death by his girlfriend’s father, police say, after the two argued during a booze-fueled gathering inside his home early Monday morning. Read more: SILive.com

Newtown students to return to classes in wake of school massacre

The schools of Newtown, which stood empty in the wake of a shooting rampage that took 26 of their own, will again ring with the sounds of students and teachers on Tuesday as the bucolic Connecticut town struggles to return to normal. Read more: Reuters

 

Queen’s Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’s FORECAST 

Monday: Overcast with a chance of rain. High of 54. Winds from the ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Monday night: Overcast with rain. Fog overnight. Low of 48. Winds from the ESE at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 80% with rainfall amounts near 0.9 in. possible.

EVENT of the DAY: “How Much Do I Owe You?”

No Longer Empty is proud to announce its 14th exhibition in the Clock Tower in Long Island City. The iconic former Bank of Manhattan building has opened its doors, vaults and even illuminate The Clock Tower to host an immersive and ambitious site-specific exhibition. As the title implies, “How Much Do I Owe You?” is a personal and conversational exploration into the new iterations of currency, value and exchange at this time of financial flux, growing debt and job insecurity. Open now, Monday-Thursday, 1-7 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Triumph of Civic Virtue is moved to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn

The Triumph of Civic Virtue, the controversial Queens statue that has divided local lawmakers and residents for decades, has moved to greener pastures. Read more: New York Daily News

Cuomo delivers $154 million in federal Sandy aid

Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered the first federal aid since Superstorm Sandy hit New York – more than $114 million for New York University Langone Medical Center and $40 million to help remove debris on Long Island. Read more: ABC New York

Report: City to offer ‘bounty’ to landlords to ban smoking in apartments

Smoking has been banned in New York City restaurants since 1995, in bars since 2002, and in parks and beaches since last year. Read more: CBS New York

Teachers say they don’t feel prepared to teach new Common Core standards before April state exams

Teachers across the city do not feel adequately trained to prepare students for upcoming state exams aligned with new, more rigorous standards called Common Core, according to a survey conducted last month by the United Federation of Teachers. Read more: New York Daily News

Extell’s chief thinking tall for Midtown

Gary Barnett, one of New York’s leading developers, is planning a new Midtown skyscraper that could rise 300 feet higher than the Empire State Building, and he’s has hired the architect who designed the world’s tallest tower. Read more: Wall Street Journal

‘These tragedies must end,’ Obama says

President Obama vowed on Sunday to “use whatever power this office holds” to stop massacres like the slaughter at the school here that shocked the nation, hinting at a fresh effort to curb the spread of guns as he declared that there was no “excuse for inaction.” Read more: New York Times

Gun control debate begins to simmer after massacre

Democrats say meaningful action in the wake of last week’s elementary school shooting must include a ban on military-style assault weapons and a look at how the nation deals with individuals suffering from serious mental illness. Read more: AP

 

 

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

 TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Overcast. High of 45. Winds from the NNW at 5 to 10 mph. Wednesday Night: Overcast in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 36. Winds from the North at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: Jackson Heights Community Orchestra

The newly-formed Jackson Heights Community Orchestra, launched by conductor Patricia Glunt, has scheduled its first performance for Dec. 12 at the Jackson Heights Community Church. “Jackson Heights is ripe and it’s ready for an orchestra,” said Glunt, a 58-year-old musician who lives in the neighborhood. “The idea is really to explore and showcase the talent that we have in Queens, and use Jackson Heights as the center of that.” Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Vallone officially announces borough president bid

Councilmember Peter Vallone’s holiday surprise wasn’t all that surprising. Vallone announced his bid for Queens borough president at his father’s annual holiday party on Tuesday, December 11, surrounded by friends and family. Read more: Queens Courier

Queens lawmaker proposes local referendum on casino gaming

Local residents should get a chance to weigh in before the state rolls the dice on full-tilt casino gaming, a Queens lawmaker said on Tuesday. Read more: New York Daily News

JFK guards threaten strike, could snarl holiday travel plans

Just in time for Christmas, security guards at JFK Airport are threatening to walk off their jobs and create a holiday nightmare for travelers. Read more: New York Post

Sandy ineptitude catches up with LIPA at Moreland Commission hearing

Officials slammed the Long Island Power Authority Tuesday for its performance in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, during a hearing by a commission exploring how those utilities might be restructured. Read more: CBS New York

First section of WTC spire set to be hoisted

The first section of a spire that will rise atop the World Trade Center’s tallest building is set to be lifted into place on Wednesday. Read more: Fox New York

The Pope, now on Twitter, posts his first message

Pope Benedict XVI sent his first Twitter message on Wednesday, saying, “Dear Friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.” Read more: New York Times

Gunman opens fire at Oregon mall; Suspect, 2 dead

The mall Santa was waiting for the next child’s Christmas wish when shots rang out, causing the shopping mall to erupt into chaos. Read more: AP