There was one theme that permeated every discussion during the hour-long meeting of the 106th Precinct Community Council last Wednesday — Hurricane Sandy.
The council used the meeting to praise the police department for its response to the storm, which battered the community of Howard Beach and neighbors to the south.
“The elephant in the room is the storm,” Deputy Inspector Thomas Pascale, commanding officer of the 106th Precinct, said at the beginning of the meeting.
Pascale said police were out the night of the storm, Oct. 29, and were able to patrol flooded parts of Howard Beach with the help of the National Guard, which chauffeured officers around in Humvees. In many parts of the neighborhood, downed power lines made the floodwaters dangerous.
The nearly two-week blackout in Howard Beach after the hurricane only compounded things, Pascale said.
“The blackout was a dangerous situation,” he explained. “We had a lot of calls about looting and we responded to them. Thankfully they were all unfounded. We have no problem with that.”
In the rest of the communities served by the precinct — including Ozone Park, Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park — gas lines were the main problems the police had to deal with in the days after the storm.
Back in Howard Beach, Pascale said the precinct was able to assign 50 cops south of the Belt Parkway — 25 on either side of Cross Bay Boulevard — after receiving extra officers from the Bronx.
Community Board 10 Chairwoman Betty Braton, whose home is in a badly affected part of Howard Beach, added her praise to the work the NYPD did during and after the hurricane.
“On behalf of everyone on the community board, we want to extend our thanks for the superb job from the Police Department,” she said, adding that many of the cops on duty were from the Rockaways or coastal parts of Long Island, and their own homes and families were in peril.
Braton also praised the NYPD’s traffic enforcement job on Cross Bay Boulevard during the days when traffic lights were out.
Besides discussing Hurricane Sandy, the council responded to a concern from a Richmond Hill resident named Reginald who said there was a situation with homeless people sleeping and defecating on 121st Street off Liberty Avenue. An officer from the precinct said three arrests had been made at the site earlier in the week.
A member of the 75th Precinct Community Council in East New York, Brooklyn attended the meeting to gather information about the council’s bylaws to help with his own.
Another Richmond Hill resident informed the police about a minivan that has been parked near the corner of 106th Street and 107th Avenue for over a month after it was dropped off by a tow truck. She gave the police the information on the tow truck that left the van and they promised to follow up.
A Lindenwood resident asked if the police could do anything about idling cars in front of stores at the neighborhood’s shopping center, but Pascale said stopping and idling is not illegal, only parking, and the lot is private property anyway.
The council also reminded attendees and all residents that the 106th Precinct will be collecting coats from now until Jan. 1. All coat donations can be brought to the precinct at 103-532 101 St. in Ozone Park