Pols Call For Disaster Aid
Congressmember Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills), accompanied by community leaders representing neighborhoods badly affected by the recent storm, held an emergency conference at MacDonald Park in Forest Hills. There Weiner called for the federal government to provide emergency aid needed to repair damage caused by the September 16 tornadoes and macroburst which struck Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens.
MacDonald Park, at Queens and Yellowstone Boulevards, was ravaged by the macroburst that tore apart every tree.
“I am calling on Governor Paterson and FEMA to declare Queens a disaster area,” Weiner said. “There is still some dispute as to what happened here. I don’t care what you call it, this was a tornado.”
The National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed late on Friday, September 17 that in fact two tornadoes and a macroburst struck Brooklyn and Queens on September 16, packing winds of up to 125 miles per hour and cutting a 14-mile path through the metropolitan area. According to reports from the NWS, the first tornado touched down in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn.
“In order to be labeled a disaster area the government requires more than $7 million in aggregated damages,” City Councilmember Dan Halloran (RWhitestone) said. “ urge everyone to call 311 to report damages and to take pictures whenever possible and send them off to the media and to the offices of your local civic leaders.”
More than 60 buildings were damaged citywide, with 19 in the borough. Forest Hills, Middle Village, Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Auburndale and Bayside suffered severe damage from fallen trees and power lines. At St. John’s Cemetery near Yellowstone Boulevard in Glendale, tombstones were toppled over and in some cases were torn directly out of the ground leaving behind gaping holes.
As of Monday, all power had been restored to area residents.
State Senator Frank Padavan (DBayside), Councilmember Peter Koo (RFlushing) and state Assemblymember Grace Meng (D-Flushing) were present to report on the devastation of the Downtown Flushing area.
“The damage we have witnessed to our area is something that most of us have never experienced before,” Koo said. “Our hearts goes out to the family of the young lady killed in the storm.”
The tornado that touched down in Flushing, recorded as an EF-1 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, cut a path four miles long, resulting in the death of Aline Levakis a resident of Pennsylvania. Levakis was killed on the Grand Central Parkway near Jewel Avenue after a tree landed on her car. She had switched places with her husband, Billy, who had been driving, just a few minutes before.
The twister also produced high winds that ripped off the 200-year-old spire atop St. George’s Episcopal Church sending it crashing onto Main Street. The tornado touched down about two miles south of Flushing and moved northeast, traveling on the ground for about four miles. The average path width was about 100 yards according to the NWS.
According to Meng, people who live in Flushing and the surrounding areas who do not speak English can report a fallen tree, damage to their property or loss of power by calling 311. The city received three times the normal volume of calls to 911, more than 25,000 made within hours after the storm.
“Although our neighborhoods have been devastated, we must be thankful that more people were not hurt by this storm,” Padavan said. “I have seen the best in many New Yorkers who are out helping their neighbors who need assistance.”
Also present were Councilmember James Gennaro (D-Forest Hills), Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi (DMiddle Village) and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village).
Paterson said he requested the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide teams of federal inspectors to determine the extent of damage.
For indepth photo coverage of the storm submitted by Leah and Roger McEnery, Kenny Kasman, Robert F. Schnell & Tony Barsamian
Click the link below