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Queens Chronicle

Hurricane Sandy spares parts of boro

Trees, power lines down, but floods and other troubles kept minimal

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Posted: Thursday, November 1, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 11:52 am, Thu Nov 8, 2012.

The wind and rain from Hurricane Sandy still were hitting Queens, though mildly, as the cleanup effort began on Tuesday.

Issues of flooding and loss of power depended largely on geography and good fortune.

“We were lucky,” said Christine Coppinger of 77th Place in Middle Village, as she was clearing the remnants of a fallen tree from the road. “I don’t think anyone on this block lost power.” Her neighbor Donna Hilbert said there was one injury on the block, a woman who was hurt by a fallen tree when she went to check on her elderly mother down the street.

Both women said streets south of Juniper Valley Park — with more overhead power lines — fared far worse, in the section of Middle Village believed to be one of the first to lose power in Queens.

Numerous residents placed their loss of power between 3 and 3:45 p.m., but all interviewed agreed that it was before the storm kicked into full gear after 5 p.m.

Harriet Koch of 72nd Street pointed to a young tree in the strip by her curb which had been uprooted and was leaning against its neighbor.

“That happened before the storm really hit,” she said. And while the ensuing high winds didn’t knock the leaning tree over, they did drop a bough from another tree through the rear windshield of Koch’s car.

Karen Taverone, also of 71st Street, said residents were trying their best to function around downed trees until the Sanitation Department could come by.

Coppinger and Hilbert said no cars appeared to be damaged on 77th Place, as residents on their street know better than to park near the trees in high winds.

“These swamp maples are terrible,” Coppinger said.

The owner of a white Volkswagen on 74th Street, south of the park, was not as fortunate when a massive tree — large enough to block off the entire street at the fork with Pleasantview Street — came toppling down.

The homes along the street fared better. Jan Foreman, who has lived on 74th Street for eight years, said while he did lose power shortly after 3 p.m., damage was limited to a fence being knocked down.

“No big deal,” he said.

A man who identified himself only as Martin said his house appeared to have suffered nothing more than the loss of a few roof shingles.

Several residents said flooding was not an issue in their homes.

“There seemed to be hardly any rain,” said Linda McQuail of 70th Street. “It was all wind.”

The wind also took its toll on the other side of Woodhaven Boulevard. Hermina Goldberg of Alderton Street in Rego Park had a cherry tree from her yard fall onto her car.

“It was about 40 years old,” she said. “It was a small tree when we moved here in 1979, and we watched it grow.” It caused a dent in the car’s roof, and cracked the windshield.

“But during the storm, the wind picked it up off the front of our car and dropped on the rear of one parked in front of it,” she said.

Her husband, Steve Goldberg, is a member of Community Board 6, and had been out inspecting damage on Tuesday morning.

“There are some trees down in the Crescents,” Goldberg said, referring to the neighborhood to the south. “And there are a lot of trees down in Forest Hills Gardens.”

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) has crusaded about the flooding problems in her district, though her office on Wednesday said power outages remained the primary concern in Sandy’s wake.

She said it is primarily a combination of the trees and the overhead wires Coppinger mentioned.

In a statement issued by her office, the councilwoman thanked the city’s first responders, emergency crews and volunteers who have been helping get the city back on its feet.

She is urging residents to report all remaining power outages to the city’s 311 hotline, and said her office will continue to work with all appropriate city agencies “to clean up, restore power and rebuild.”

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