Tag Archives: Hurricane

Family of Sandy’s first victim to sue city


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan/Laino photo courtesy of Facebook

The family of the Flushing man tragically killed by a felled tree during Sandy plans to sue the city after they said they fought in vain for at least a decade to get the towering threat removed, legal sources said.

A notice of claim has been filed on behalf of Tony Laino, 29, who was pinned under a tremendous tree that ripped through his bedroom in the upper left portion of his two-story home at 47-34 166th Street on October 29.

Laino, considered the storm’s first New York City victim, was pronounced dead at approximately 7 p.m., police said.

“Tony Laino was unnecessarily killed by a tree that didn’t belong there,” said the family’s attorney, Rosemarie Arnold. “It shouldn’t have been planted there to begin with. It was overgrown, rotten and improperly pruned.”

Arnold said these fatal factors caused the tree to fall when it was confronted by predicted 80 miles per hour hurricane winds.

“The city knew about everything years before it happened,” she said.

The victim’s parents, Carol and Robert Laino, and one of his two brothers, Nicholas Laino, are gearing up to sue the city for emotional, mental distress and monetary damages, including funeral and burial expenses, according to the notice of claim obtained by The Queens Courier.

New York City and its Parks Department were “grossly negligent, wanton, reckless, purposeful and/or breached their duties,” which led to Laino’s “wrongful and untimely death,” the claim said.

Family and neighbors said the disaster could have been averted if the city listened to their numerous complaints made over a decade about the enormous tree looming over the Lainos’ home.

“I’ve been telling them to take this tree down for 20 years,” said Bobby Laino, Tony’s other brother, who lived apart from his family and who is not listed as a claimant.

According to Arnold, the Lainos’ house deed shows the tree was on city, not private, property.

The Parks Department directed comment to the city’s Law Department, which said officials would evaluate the new claim.

“We recognize that this incident involves a loss of life, which is tragic,” department spokesperson, Elizabeth Thomas, said in a statement.

The amount the family plans to sue for was not yet determined, Arnold said.

Laino was the youngest of three brothers and a worked as a driver for Ace Party & Tent Rental, his friends said.

“[The family is] heartbroken,” Arnold said. “They’re beyond heartbroken.”

 

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How to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Hurricane Sandy wrecked havoc throughout New York city, downing trees, flooding streets and knocking out power, though some neighborhoods received a greater brunt of the devastation.

Those that made it out relatively unscathed have now sprung to action to help neighbors who were not as fortunate.

Here’s a list of ways to help:

  • For those that would like to volunteer, email nycservice@cityhall.nyc.gov with your name, email address and borough. There will be ways to volunteer today and over the next week as opportunities arise.
  • Click here to volunteer at a Queens park cleanup.
  • To donate blood visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). To give blood, you must be at least 17, meet weight and height requirements and be in general good health.
  • The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City is accepting financial donations for those that would like to donate money to support relief efforts.
  • Councilmember Peter Koo’s office will be collecting new blankets, slightly used clean coats in good condition and non-perishable food items at his district office, 135-27 38th Avenue, Suite 388, Flushing, and the phone number is 718-888-8747.
  • Assemblymember Rory Lancman and candidate Nily Rozic are sponsoring a food and supplies drive and will be accepting donations in the form of unopened nonperishable food and new and used clothing in good condition daily between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. until the end of the week at Lancman’s district office at 159-16 Union Turnpike, Suite 210 in Hillcrest. If you are unable to drop off donations during these hours, food and clothing will be accepted at other times through pickup by calling Lancman’s office at 718-820-0241 or Rozic’s campaign office at 646-389-6459. Lancman’s office will also be issuing free Shabbos meals for Hillcrest families in need; you can call his office for details.
  • Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley’s office is working with Atlas Park to gather donations of canned foods, clothes, and cleanup supplies. Drop off is 8000 Cooper Avenue at the former Borders Bookstore site in Glendale. Donations can be dropped off between 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Sunday.
  • Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer is collecting water, food, blankets, warm clothes, batteries and cell phone chargers at his district office, 47-01 Queens Boulevard, Suite 205, Sunnyside. The office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.–6 p.m. The office will also be open  Saturday, November 3 from 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
  • Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., is a drop-off location for hurricane donations, noon – 5 p.m., for as long as needed.
  • The NYPD will collect non-perishable food, clothing, and other donations in the parking lot of 110-00 Rockaway Boulevard in Jamaica. Officers will be accepting the donations daily from 10 a.m to 6 p.m. Money cannot be accepted. Anyone who wants to give is urged to donate canned goods, canned milk, bottled water and other non-perishables; paper products, personal and baby care products, trash bags, cleaning products, linens and towels, flash lights, batteries; clothing for colder weather.
  • The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association is collecting blankets, shirts, socks, sweaters, jackets, old sneakers, non-perishable food, pet food, cat food, dog food at 84-20 Jamaica Avenue.

Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: A slight chance of showers. Cloudy, with a high near 54. Southwest wind 8 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%. Wednesday night: A slight chance of showers. Cloudy, with a low around 46. Southwest wind around 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Local death toll climbs to 35; more than a year to recover

Large swaths of the New York area looked like a post-apocalyptic wasteland yesterday in the aftermath of a colossal hurricane that killed at least 35 people and crippled transit and power networks. It will take a year or more to fully recover from the assault of Hurricane Sandy — the most devastating storm to ever strike the Big Apple. Read more: NY Post

City continues efforts to restore power, transportation following storm

New Yorkers are beginning to pick up the pieces as crews work around-the-clock to restore the city’s power grid and transit system following Sandy’s deadly path of destruction across the five boroughs. An MTA spokesperson says that local and express bus service will mostly run today but adds that buses will be detoured based on road conditions. Read more: NY1

Damage estimates paint bleak picture

It will take deep pockets to pay off this Sandy-soaked bill. Economic damage from superstorm Sandy could cost the region a staggering $10 billion to $20 billion, according to initial estimates. “The storm sort of played out the way we expected it to,” said Bill Keogh, president of EQECAT, a risk-management modeling firm that studies natural disasters for the insurance industry. Read more: NY Post

Widow sues elite security guard company over husband’s death

A company that provides security to the New York Stock Exchange and other big firms must pay for killing “an innocent victim” who was run down by a driver while eating his lunch, a lawsuit charges. Sorel Depas-Medina, a hard-working clerk in the state Attorney General’s Office, was eating on Broad St. when a Honda SUV, driven by a T&M Protection Resources employee, jumped a curb and pinned him against the wall on Aug. 23. Read more: Daily News

Looters ‘swipe’ up the mess in chaos zones

Hurricane Sandy brought out the worst yesterday in some sleazy New Yorkers, who looted stores and homes across the city. Some posed as Con Ed workers to dupe their victims. Police arrested more than a dozen looters in the Rockaways and Coney Island, which had been evacuated, and stood guard outside ravaged stores at the South Street Seaport. Read more: NY Post

Food trucks rolling

There may be no light in the kitchen, but there’s likely food in the pantry. The city’s food network roared back to life yesterday, with trucks rolling in and out of the Hunts Point Cooperative Market in The Bronx and other key distribution hubs. Read more: NY Post

Hurricane Sandy updates: Subway “has never faced a disaster as devastating” as yesterday: MTA CEO


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

storm

10:30 a.m.

Statement from MTA Chairman and CEO Joe Lhota:

The New York City subway system is 108 years old, but it has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night. Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on our entire transportation system, in every borough and county of the region. It has brought down trees, ripped out power and inundated tunnels, rail yards and bus depots.

As of last night, seven subway tunnels under the East River flooded. Metro-North Railroad lost power from 59th Street to Croton-Harmon on the Hudson Line and to New Haven on the New Haven Line. The Long Island Rail Road evacuated its West Side Yards and suffered flooding in one East River tunnel. The Hugh L. Carey Tunnel is flooded from end to end and the Queens Midtown Tunnel also took on water and was closed. Six bus garages were disabled by high water. We are assessing the extent of the damage and beginning the process of recovery. Our employees have shown remarkable dedication over the past few days, and I thank them on behalf of every New Yorker. In 108 years, our employees have never faced a challenge like the one that confronts us now. All of us at the MTA are committed to restoring the system as quickly as we can to help bring New York back to normal.

10:15 p.m.

A second person has been reported dead in Queens from Hurricane Sandy, according to authorities.

Police said a woman was electrocuted at 105th Avenue and 135th Street in Richmond Hill at approximately 7:45 p.m.  Reports indicate she stepped in an electrified puddle, though police could not confirm at this time.

A man was killed earlier when a tree fell on his house in Flushing.

10 p.m.

Bloomberg updated residents on Hurricane Sandy:

- Con Ed expects outages to last at least through the morning, possible longer.

- New York University Hospital power is out along with a backup generator, patients are currently being moved.

- 9-1-1 is receiving 10,000 calls per hour, 10 times the normal rate.  The calls are overflowing their lines.  Bloomberg said that unless you are in an emergency, do not call 9-1-1, dial 3-1-1.

8:20 p.m.

According to the National Weather Service, Hurricane Sandy has made landfall along the coast of Southern New Jersey.

7:45 p.m.

A 30-year-old man died after a tree fell on his Flushing house near 46th Avenue and 166th Street at approximately 7 p.m.  There were no other injuries reported in the incident, police said.

6:50 p.m.

About 100 firefighters are on scene as part of an 8th Avenue building has collapsed.  According to the Daily News, no injuries are being reported at the four-story, 25 unit building on 8th Avenue and 14th Streets.

5:55 p.m.

Public transportation likely to remain shutdown through tomorrow.

5:50 p.m.

The highest surge in the Rockaways, in the Battery and on Staten Island between 6:30 and 10:30 p.m., said Bloomberg. In parts of the city that are on the Long Island Sound, the peak surge will be between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.

5:45 p.m.

Bloomberg asked residents to call 3-1-1 for downed trees and limbs, not 9-1-1, so the lines can remain open for emergencies.

5:30 p.m.

Mayor Bloomberg updates New Yorkers on Hurricane Sandy.

 

4:10 p.m.

The Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge will close immediately due to high winds. The George Washington, Verrazano, Marine Parkway, Whitestone, Henry Hudson and Throgs Neck bridges will close at 7 p.m.  Midtown Tunnel and RFK Bridge to remain open for now.

4 p.m.

Governor Cuomo held anothe update on Hurricane Sandy

“Storm is as expected so far,” Cuomo said. “Sandy’s fury is still coming to be coming tonight.”

The worst of the storm may begin at 6 p.m. this evening.

Cuomo announced the deployment of 1,000 National Guardsman, mostly on Long Island.

3:20 p.m.

Governor Cuomo announced the Tappan Zee Bridge will close at 4 p.m.

3:15 p.m.

Danny Ruscillo, president of the 100 Precinct Community Council, said there was flooding around manhole covers in some areas of Breezy Point and Neponsit this morning, but it seems to have subsided.

The Parks Department was still out trying to build sand barricades this afternoon. Some of the barricades, however, were destroyed by this morning’s surge, according to Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder. The Parks Department has been trying to restore the damages before the next major surge.

Firefighters have been going around the peninsula to help people evacuate or get to their homes, the assemblymember said.

2:30 p.m.

All CUNY schools cancelled classes through tomorrow.  The stock market will also be closed for the second consecutive day due to the storm.

12:50 p.m.

President Barack Obama briefed the country on the storm expected to make landfall over the next couple of hours.

“This is going to be a big and powerful storm,” Obama said.

He said the fact that governors and local officials have had a couple of days of coordination has allowed municipalities to be prepared as best they can.  He also said resources will be available following the storm for areas hit hardest.

12:10 p.m.

The city will continue to run buses at public housing in Zone A for the next hour attempting to evacuate all residents before it becomes too dangerous to do so. Evacuation centers throughout the five boroughs are still accepting residents.

About 3,100 people — 73 pets —are currently in one of the centers along with about 3,000 volunteers.

The city has also increased effort to reach homeless residents on the street.

“Its just dangerous to be out on the streets when the winds are this high,” Bloomberg said.

Noon

Senator Charles Schumer is asking FEMA to expedite aid to New York.

“No question we will need the $26 million limit,” Schumer said. The senator wants the agency to skip the preliminary steps and pronounce a major disaster declaration for the area.

11:50 a.m.

Sanitation workers were out today collecting garbage and will pick up tomorrow where possible. Crews will also be attempting to clear roads of downed limbs.

11:40 a.m.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that city schools will remain closed tomorrow.  He said there is no chance public transportation will be running by tomorrow morning.

After-school activities and Public Schools Athletic League events will also be cancelled.

11 p.m.

Storm surges have already approached Hurricane Irene levels, said Howard Glaser, director of state operations, with Hurricane Sandy still hundreds of miles away.  The total storm surge New York saw in last year’s storm reached about nine and a half feet.  Predictions for Hurricane Sandy forecast up to an 11.7  foot surge, which would break the record 10.5 foot surge of Hurricane Donna in 1960.

Governor Andrew Cuomo spent yesterday touring the state and is confidant in New York’s preparation for the storm.

“In a cruel irony, the consistency of the exposure has helped us getting more prepared,” Cuomo said.

Despite preparation, the storm still presents great danger, he said.

“Citizens do not have to be on the road,” Cuomo said. “You do not need to be going to the beach to take pictures. Don’t be fooled by looking out the window and saying its not that bad.”

10:45 a.m.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the Holland and Brooklyn-Battery tunnels will close today at 2 p.m. Bridges will remain open as of now.

9:15 a.m.

The Food Bank for New York City will continue to  to distribute food to operational soup kitchens, food pantries, senior centers and agencies in non-evacuated parts of the five boroughs.

“Food Bank For New York City is actively working to fulfill two main priorities: services to our members and services to the clients of our kitchen and pantry,” said President and CEO Margarette Purvis. “The storm takes on a whole new dimension for our network because we’re at the end of the month when many families find themselves using our programs because their resources have run out. With this in mind, maintaining services for our neediest neighbors during this time of crisis is critical. We’re also contacting our most active member agencies to determine food supply needs and are preparing to send emergency trucks as available.”

8:45 a.m.

Con Edison is reporting a power outage in Rosedale, Queens that is affecting 1,022 customers there, and is currently responding to it. To report any service loss, call ConEd at 1-800-752-6633.

8:00 a.m.

All U.S. stock and options trading will be closed on Monday because of Hurricane Sandy and may be closed on Tuesday as well. It’s the first time the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) has shut down for an entire day because of weather since 1985 when Hurricane Gloria hit the city. Yesterday, sandbags  were placed in front of the NYSE in anticipation of the storm.

10:40 p.m.

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a high wind warning for the area as Hurricane Sandy’s gusts are expected to pick up beginning tomorrow morning.

The warning will remain in effect from Monday at 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

Sustained winds are forecasted to reach 30 to 50 mph with gusts up to 80 mph, according to the NWS.  The strongest winds are expected Monday afternoon through the night.

A significant threat to life and property exists from winds of this strength, the NWS said.

Downed limbs, trees and power lines could be widespread in this weather.

10:15 p.m.

Along with high schools and grade schools closing tomorrow, Queens colleges also cancelled classes.  Queens College, York College, Queensborough Community College and LaGuardia Community College are all closed tomorrow.

8 p.m.

President Barack Obama granted Governor Andrew Cuomo’s request for a federal emergency declaration as Hurricane Sandy is about to strike New York.

The declaration allows the state to receive assistance and resources to aid in evacuation, sheltering and other measures.

“Once again, I thank the president for his quick response to my request for a federal emergency declaration which will apply to the entire State of New York. We appreciate the federal government’s support as we continue to prepare for Hurricane Sandy,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo declared a state of emergency in New York yesterday ahead of Hurricane Sandy.

6:30 p.m.

The Staten Island will cancel service beginning at 8 p.m. from the St. George Terminal and 8:30 p.m. from the Whitehall Terminal. East River Ferry Service is suspended through tomorrow. PATH trains will shut down at midnight.  Amtrack will cease operating northeast corridor serivce at 7 p.m. and nearly all service on the eastern seaboard on Monday, including Acela Express, Northeast Regional, Keystone and Shuttle trains.

4:30 p.m.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg held another press conference at 4 p.m. to update residents on preparations for Hurricane Sandy.

“If you have not yet left Zone A, please get to public transportation as soon as possible,” the mayor said.  Zone A areas must be evacuated by 7 p.m. tonight.

Buses are being sent to all public housing in Zone A to transfer residents to evacuation centers throughout the borough.

Fliers have been posted and staffers are knocking on doors and making calls to ensure residents leave NYCHA housing in the vulnerable areas.

Elevators, water and heat will begin being shut down at 7 p.m. in these buildings.

There are no plans to close bridges or tunnels at this time. the mayor said.

Many Rockaway residents ignore evacuation, remain home


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER?Photo by Terence Cullen

Despite calls from elected officials in the area, many Rockaway residents say they’re staying, and have hunkered down for the impacts of Hurricane Sandy.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced earlier today that NYCHA would begin shutting down elevator service, heating and hot water in the 26 housing developments within Zone A as a means to drive people from the flood zones and into shelters.

John D’Arrigo said he and his wife Ruthanne are staying put in their beachfront apartment — although they evacuated last year for Hurricane Irene.

“Last year we kind of evacuated,” he said on the boardwalk of Rockaway Beach, “but this time we’re going to stay here.”

D’Arrigo, like many others who plan to stay, said he stocked up on necessary items and will wait out the storm.

“We’re hoping for the best and preparing for the worst,” he said.

Likewise, Oscar Izquierdo said he was not worried about the storm, or flooding in his third floor apartment. His concern right now was potential flooding or water damage to his car.

Some, however, said they are closing up and heading to higher ground.

Elizabeth Bethea said she was helping to close down her cafe, Veggie Island, and heading out to Brooklyn.

The city has been working all weekend to build sand barriers around potential flood sites on the southern coast of the peninsula, particularly around Beach 116th Street and Rockaway Beach Park.

“I’m just hoping the barricades do hold up here,” said Danny Ruscillo, president of the 100th Precinct Community Council.

Neighbors are working together to fill sand bags to prevent flooding, Ruscillo said, adding that “everybody’s helping everybody.”

Elected officials and staffers have been throughout the peninsula this weekend reaching out to residents and urging them to move to designated evacuation centers.

State Senator Malcolm Smith voiced concern that people were lax about staying put for a storm expected to devastate the area. He added that 90 percent of the residents he spoke to said they decided to stay where they were.

By staying in the area, Smith said residents were not only putting their own lives at risk, but those of the first responders who would have to return to the peninsula to save them.

“We don’t want this to be another Katrina,” Smith said.”They didn’t treat Katrina serious and you saw many lives in loss, and this is what could end up being here. The problem is people don’t feel any rain, it’s just a slight wind so think we’re going to be fine. I think preparation is sound, I just would hope people understand how serious this is, and do not put their families at risk and our first responders.”

Surfers trying to capitalize on the growing waves have been continually urged to stay out of the water.

“They [surfers] want to catch some great waves, but they’re putting their lives in jeopardy, and also they’re putting other people at risk: the first responders, and the people that have to drag them out of the water when it becomes too rough,” said Councilmember Eric Ulrich.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder said he’s spoken to Governor Andrew Cuomo about continued assistance from the state and FEMA in preparation for Hurricane Sandy, and to co-ordinate relief efforts for the colossal effects it’s projected to have.

“I’m confident that the city, state and federal government will work together to bring the aid to people as soon as possible,” he said.

Councilmember Sanders to remain in the Rockaways


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Councilmember James Sanders, Jr. is warning residents of the 31st Council District of the harm Sandy could bring.

He urges the community to make all of the necessary emergency preparations in advance of the approaching storm, and to stay informed to city advisories.

“Current forecast models are predicting a storm unprecedented in the history of the tri-state area,” he said. “A mandatory emergency evacuation has been ordered for Zone A, which includes all of the Rockaways. Everyone should immediately get to safe ground and shelter with a relative or visit one of the emergency shelters. If you do stay in place, make sure you tie down and bring inside anything that can potentially fly around in severe wind. Have plenty of water, candles, and canned food. If you have a transistor radio, this is the time to dust it off. I urge all residents, especially those in flood prone areas like the Rockaways and Springfield Gardens, to take every possible precaution to protect yourself during this dangerous storm.”

Sanders also announced his intention to “shelter in place”, remaining in the Rockaways to ensure the delivery of emergency services to constituents who choose to remain in the zone or those who have no alternative. Chief of Staff Donovan Richards is planning to spend Monday night at the Aqueduct Emergency center to see to the needs of reidents who are evacuated.

“It is infinitely better to be over-prepared than under-prepared,” Sanders concluded. “We know that we are likely to see some damage from winds, downed power lines, and flooding. The bottom line is this: we can replace homes and shutters and windows. We can fix roads and rebuild bridges. But we cannot replace lost lives. We cannot return loved ones from the dead.”

 

Evacuation centers in Queens


| brennison@queenscourier.com

The mayor has already ordered the mandatory evacuations of vulnerable areas in Queens ahead of Hurricane Sandy, and others may want to head to an evacuation center just to be safe.

Here are the 16 evacuation centers in Queens:

• John Adams High School- 101-01 Rockaway Blvd., Ozone Park.

• Grover Cleveland High School- 21-27 Hinrod Street, Ridgewood

• Aviation High School- 45-30 36th Street

• Bayside High School- 32-24 Corp. Kennedy Boulevard

• Belmont Racetrack- Hempstead Turnpike and Cross Island Parkway

• Flushing High School- 35-01 Union Street

• Forest Hills High School- 67-01 110th Street

• J.H.S. 185- 147-26 25th Drive

• Hillcrest High School- 160-05 Highland Avenue

• Newcomers High School- 28-01 41st Avenue

• Newtown High School- 48-01 90th Street

• P.S. 19- 98-02 Roosevelt Avenue

• Queens College- 65-30 Kissena Boulevard

• Queensborough Community College- 222-05 56th Avenue

• William C. Bryant High School- 48-10 31st Avenue

• York College- 94-20 Guy R. Brewer Boulevard

City schools closed Monday, possibly Tuesday


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Mike DiBartolomeo

With the city’s transportation shutting down tonight, the mayor also announced the closure of schools on Monday.

Heavy rains and strong winds have also forced evacuations of low-lying areas throughout the five boroughs.

“Due to anticipated inclement weather conditions from Hurricane Sandy, all New York City public schools will be closed to students tomorrow, October 29. Administrative offices will be open. All after-school activities and Public Schools Athletic League events will also be cancelled. We are asking that school staff and employees assigned to a shelter site to report to their posts,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

A decision has yet to be made regarding school openings on Tuesday, though the mayor said he hopes that children will be able to return by then.

 

 

Mayor orders mandatory evacuations for Rockaways, Hamilton Beach and Broad Channel


| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

With Hurricane Sandy making its way for New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ordered the mandatory evacuations of Zone A areas which includes the Rockaways, Broad Channel and Hamilton Beach.

Parts of other low-lying Queens areas are also being evacuated.  Click here for the map of the evacuation areas. The low-lying coastal areas are most vulnerable during the storm that is expected to see large surges at sea.

The evacuations are set for 7 p.m. tonight.

“They are not only endangering their own lives, they are endangering the lives of other,” the mayor said of those who choose to ignore the order.

There are 16 evacuation centers throughout Queens.  Click here to find one near you.

“Do not wait until the last minute to get public transportation,” the mayor said.

Public transportation will be shutting down tonight; The last train will depart at 7 p.m., buses at 9 p.m. tonight.

 

City agencies prepping for “Frankenstorm”


| brennison@queenscourier.com

With Hurricane Sandy barreling toward the city, city agencies are preparing for the possible massive storm.

The heavy rain and strong winds can cause unsafe conditions throughout the public transportation system and on the city’s bridges and tunnels.  No decision has been made yet as to whether there will be any service stoppages during the storm.

“We are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Joe Lhota. “Whatever happens, we’ll be ready.

They MTA last suspended operation during Hurricane Irene. The MTA’s hurricane plan calls for “an orderly shutdown of service before the arrival of sustained winds of 39 mph or higher.  Sustained winds are forecasted to be between 40-50 mph.

Those high winds and rain falling at 1-2 inches per hour may also knock out power.

“This is a large unpredictable storm, so be prepared for outages,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

Con Edison has crews prepping for the conditions that could effect the city’s electric, gas and steam systems.

Customers can report downed power lines and outages at www.conEd.com. They also can call 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633).

In the event the hurricane hits our area, Con Edison offered the following safety tips:

  •  If you see downed electrical wires, do not go near them. Treat all downed wires as if they are live. Never attempt to move or touch them with any object. Be mindful that downed wires can be hidden from view by tree limbs, leaves or water.
  • Report all downed wires to Con Edison and your local police department immediately. If a power line falls on your car while you’re in it, stay inside the vehicle and wait for emergency personnel.
  • If your power goes out, turn off all lights and appliances to prevent overloaded circuits when power is restored.
  • Check to make sure your flashlights and any battery-operated radios are working. Also, make sure you have a supply of extra batteries. Weather updates and news on power outages can be heard on most local radio and television stations.
  • Avoid opening your freezer to see if food is still frozen. Every time you open the door, room-temperature air enters and speeds the thawing process. Most fully loaded freezers will keep food frozen for approximately 36 to 48 hours; half-full freezers will keep food frozen for approximately 24 hours.

Governor declares state of emergency as Hurricane Sandy heads for Queens


| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

Meteorologists expect the pre-Halloween hurricane horror “Frankenstorm” to strike Queens early Monday with the strongest surge coming later that day.

Hurricane Sandy has already blown through Haiti and Cuba and is forecasted to make a significant impact on a large portion of the New York metro area, said National Weather Service meteorologist David Stark.  Due to the storm’s potential impact, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency throughout New York.

Tropical storm-level winds may begin Sunday night with the stronger gusts coming Monday.  Sustained winds at 40-50 mph with gusts 60-70 mph  are expected with the potential for even stronger bursts.  Power outages, structural damage and downed trees are common in those types of winds.

Waves may reach 2o-25 feet off the coast.

“What we’ve been saying to everyone in coastal communities is prepare for a significant amount of coastal flooding,” Stark said.

During the heaviest rainfall, one to two inches per hour may flood areas.

Officials have not yet issued mandatory evacuations of low-lying areas, though they are still possible.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has canceled all elective admissions at hospital in Zone A, which include the Queens neighborhoods of the Rockaways, Hamilton Beach and Broad Channel.

A decision on whether to close schools in the city will likely be made on Sunday, the mayor said.

Hurricanes rarely touch down in the area this late in hurricane season which lasts through November. Some have briefly touched the area in October, Stark said.

“It’s happening a little closer to land than what is typically common,” Stark said.

The “Frankenstorm” is interacting with a jet stream and cold front from the west pulling it back to the west rather than continuing out into open waters.

 

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

 

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.