Officials Reach Out To Aid Storm Victims
By ROSS BARKAN
|Assemblywoman Grace Meng, State Sen. Toby Stavisky, Councilman Peter Koo and Assembly candidate Ron Kim held a press conference at Flushing High School on Tuesday to address the damage from this week’s superstorm.
Photo by Joe Marvilli.
Superstorm Sandy, a weather system seemingly without precedent, ravaged Queens earlier this week, flooding, burning and cutting the power to numerous neighborhoods.
Sandy killed more than 20 New Yorkers, scorched Breezy Point and sent water crashing through neighborhoods like Howard Beach, Broad Channel and Hunters Point in Long Island City. The Rockaway peninsula was drowned and thousands of Queens residents were left without power. More than 80 homes burned down in Breezy Point, including U.S. Rep. Bob Turner’s (R-Middle Village), and the iconic Rockaway Beach Boardwalk was obliterated.
With wind gusts approaching 100 miles-per-hour, Sandy tore through much of the northeast, particularly the New York area, where much of Long Island and parts of the City remained without power days after the storm struck. The subway system, shut down in anticipation of the storm, was deluged.
President Barack Obama declared New York City a disaster area Tuesday morning, making it eligible to receive Federal Emergency Management Agency Funds. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota and other officials on Wednesday conducted helicopter surveillance of the Rockaway peninsula, Broad Channel, John F. Kennedy Airport and other parts of the New York area.
Queens’ elected officials suspended all political activities to try and help their constituents, many of whom saw their lives altered forever by Sandy.
“We keep using the word devastation, but you don’t really know what it means until you come down here [to Breezy Point],” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Howard Beach). “As a lifelong Rockaway resident, just to sit down to think about the devastation, what it means, it makes me cry. This could alter the community for a long time, if not forever. I can’t see today how we’re ever going back to normal. It’s a scary, scary thought.”
On Tuesday, Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing), State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing, Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) and Democratic Assembly candidate Ron Kim held a press conference outside Flushing High School to discuss how Sandy affected the Flushing area.
“We’ve seen in past storms, where a business could totally go out of business if they’re not taken care of,” said Meng. “We’re hoping Con Edison could provide some help with small generators or even dry ice.”
Leading up to Sandy, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) was actively handing out fliers to residents notifying them to leave the Long Island City area and seek refuge in nearby shelters.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with out fellow New Yorkers who lost their lives and homes,” Van Bramer said. “My staff and I have been out surveying the damage the 26 th Council District sustained as a result of this storm. Our office is open and reporting incidents of downed trees, along with their locations as well as any storm-related damage.”
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) spoke with U.S. Dept. of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Tuesday about seeking urgent federal disaster aid so the MTA can pump water from flooded tunnels under the East River.
Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), while praising the NYPD and FDNY for their recovery efforts, blasted Consolidated Edison and Mayor Mike Bloomberg for not doing more to prevent the chaos that resulted from the storm. Halloran argued that Con Ed should have been ensuring over the past few years that more power lines were placed underground. As for Bloomberg, who has not endured much criticism for his storm response efforts this time, Halloran said he should have also ordered an evacuation of Zone B, which includes the neighborhoods of Howard Beach, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens and parts of Bayside and Douglaston.
The Mayor didn’t evacuate Zone B, we should’ve,” said Halloran said. “Residents in the Howard Beach area were in their attics because water had come up so high.”
Reporters Joe Marvilli and Megan Montalvo contributed to this story.