Thursday, March 18, 2010

Storm Report: Damage Control and the Aftermath

By Patricia Adams

The storm that hit the city this weekend damaged cars, homes, roads and subway lines throughout our readership area. Coastal areas experienced hurricane-like flooding conditions and electricity outages.

The New York City Parks Department has labeled it as one of the worst storms of the past decade, based on volume of calls. As of Tuesday morning, Parks had received more than 3,000 phone calls citywide about emergency tree conditions through 311. More than 1,458 trees down, split, or uprooted, including more than 150 calls about trees down on houses, and hundreds of limbs hanging or down.

Brooklyn had the most recorded calls with 1,201, Staten Island with 908, Queens with 817, the Bronx: 258 calls and Manhattan with a total of 38 calls. Citywide there were more than 1,600 trees that suffered damage.

About 350 staffers were assigned by Parks to work exclusively on storm response including 36 forestry crews and 50 field managers. An emergency contingency plan was activated and private tree service contractors assisted in removing trees from houses, streets and sidewalks. Parks is now concentrating on trees that landed on homes, cars and playgrounds.

According to the Parks Department the hardest hit areas were in Southeast Queens especially at Bayswater Park and Brookville Boulevard. One tree fell on two houses at 126th Street and 104th Avenue and at King Park in Jamaica one of five surviving trees planted more than 200 years ago by Rufus King, in honor of the 13 colonies, was toppled during the storm.

Council Member Eric Ulrich’s district which covers Howard Beach, parts of Ozone Park Richmond Hill, Woodhaven and Rockaway was especially hard hit by the storm. “We have experienced severe rain and high winds throughout this city, but my district has been hit extremely hard,” said Ulrich. “My office has received a number of calls from Hamilton Beach and Woodhaven during and after the storm, and we are dealing with each constituent on a case by case basis. I am asking all of my constituents to report any property damage to 311 and to report continued power outages, should they re-occur, to Con Edison as soon as possible.”

As of early Wednesday morning 26,000 customers remained without power. Thousands of company support personnel continue to work around the clock to help the crews that are addressing the most destructive rain and windstorm to hit New York City and Westchester in decades. Utilities from Michigan, Ohio, Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Kentucky and Massachusetts are assisting Con Edison’s crews. All Queens and Brooklyn customers affected by the storm have been restored.

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