Hurricane Sandy may be over, but Southeast Queens is still feeling the effects of the storm that blasted the borough last week, leading to power outages, downed trees, flooding and a gasoline shortage that has left motorists furious and even prompted at least two crimes in the area [see separate story].
“This was a high-magnitude storm,” Assemblyman Bill Scarborough (D-Jamaica) said Tuesday. “Things are getting better but there are still disruptions, with trees down and no power in some places. It’s a really trying time. People feel frustrated.”
Scarborough said that he and other area elected officials have been participating in daily conference calls with representatives from Con Edison to get updates on when power is, or will be, restored, and where.
“There are some sites that will be without power into the weekend,” Scarborough said. “That’s just not acceptable. People have been devastated by this storm.”
He has also been speaking with the Mayor’s Office and the forestry division of the Parks Department to find out when fallen trees will be removed.
Scarborough, like most elected officials, is coordinating donation efforts to help those impacted by the storm. The Far Rockaway branch of Queens Library is accepting donations and looking for volunteers to help with the relief effort on the peninsula.
St. Albans Congregational Church and St. Albans Presbyterian Church are collecting donations for evacuees at Hillcrest High School in Briarwood and York College in Jamaica.
“We are trying to direct people to these venues that are set up with operations willing to assist,” Scarborough said.
City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) said Wednesday that his district is still struggling with power outages and fallen trees, which in some areas block streets. The lawmaker said St. Albans, Hollis and Queens Village were particularly hard hit.
“It’s getting better, but it’s still difficult,” Comrie said. “There are a lot of singular trees down. The electricity is out of service in some places, but there is a presence by Con Ed, and they are working to address the backlog.”
Meanwhile City Councilman James Sanders Jr. (D-Laurelton) is not waiting for the Long Island Power Authority to fix the outages in the Rockaways, which have lasted more than a week. He has given its CEO Michael Hervey until Monday to fix at least part of the power or the lawmaker is going to call for his resignation.
“What we are seeing here is a crisis on par with any I’ve seen in my lifetime,” Sanders said in a prepared statement. “I hate to think that it’s at least in part an artificial crisis, born out of indifference and neglect of the poorest, hardest hit communities in the city. This needs to change. Power needs to be restored. And if the leaders of these agencies cannot do the job, they need to make room for those who can.”
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) is also concerned about the Rockaways and said Wednesday that he and Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island) have written a letter to President Obama asking him to tour the most devastated parts of their respective districts.
Meeks is also working on bringing a disaster relief center to the Rockaways, which he hopes to locate at Peninsula Hospital. It would be “one-stop shopping,” he said, for storm-related services.
In Community Board 13’s district, some progress is being made, according to District Manager Larry McClean. Last Tuesday, he and CB 13 chairman Bryan Block toured all the neighborhoods overseen by the board, taking note of the location of fallen trees and providing a three-page list to the Mayor’s Office, and the city’s departments of transportation and parks. McClean said by Nov. 2, many had been cleared away.
For those who have experienced flooding, which occurred primarily in Rosedale, McClean said, the board is referring residents to Meeks’ office, where they will be directed on how to fill out FEMA claims for reimbursement.
There were power outages in Laurelton, Rosedale, Bellerose, Queens Village, Cambria Heights and the Royal Ranch section of Glen Oaks, McClean said. Many had their service restored by Nov. 2, but some outages persist.