Western Queens as a whole weathered Hurricane Sandy without too much damage, residents said.
A few trees and lots of branches came down; Gantry Plaza State Park was flooded, but the water subsided by Tuesday afternoon; LaGuardia Airport also filled to the brim and didn’t open until 7 a.m. on Thursday; but nevertheless most of the lights stayed on and no fatalities were reported in the area.
On Tuesday afternoon Long Island City dwellers were out and about after the storm — several of the cafes and burger joints along Vernon Boulevard were packed and many people were walking their restless dogs.
On Monday New York City police put crime tape around Gantry Plaza State Park to warn people of the high water, which on Tuesday was mostly torn down. There were some deep puddles, many of the traffic lights remained on the fritz and a few trees were down including one large one in Shady Playground on Hunters Point Avenue near Vernon Boulevard.
“We were really lucky. We had power the whole time and had absolutely no damage,” said Ananda Lima, a photographer who lives in a ground floor apartment in LIC with her family. “It wasn’t so bad at all in LIC, though all the kids are sad about Shady Park.”
“Nothing broke. We were lucky,” said Amy Parker, who was walking her dog on Tuesday afternoon. She lives a few blocks uphill from Vernon Boulevard.
The homes close to the East River, mostly in the portion of LIC called Hunters Point, were in Zone A and residents were asked to evacuate, although some decided to stay, according to the office of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside).
For those who didn’t go to a home of friends or family, or opted to hunker down at home, shelters were set up atNewcomers High School, Aviation High School and Bryant High School. About 11 people and about 30 volunteers were still at Bryant High School on Wednesday, according to Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria).
In Astoria and Sunnyside, residents saw much of the same.
“No damage here, but we cannot open because our staff cannot get here with the subways down,” said Tomoko Kawamoto, spokeswoman for the Museum of the Moving Image at 35th Avenue and 37th Street. The same applied to galleries and museums in LIC including the SculptureCenter and the Naguchi Museum.
“We got very lucky here in Astoria,” said Mitch Waxman, a historian with the Newtown Creek Alliance. “Power and other services held up, no doubt due to the rebuild of the wires after the 2006 blackout. My little dog and I, however, are waiting for the Missus to find her way home from Colorado.”
LaGuardia Airport’s runways, which looked like a continuation of Flushing Bay on Tuesday, remained closed. John F. Kennedy International Airport opened to limited service at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, and Newark Liberty International opened on Wednesday at 7 a.m., also with limited service.
Some spots in Astoria did feel Hurricane Sandy’s wrath. Boulevard Gardens, a co-op on 31st Avenue and 51st Street, lost a few mature trees. A powerline broke free in front of St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church on 30th Avenue and 44th Street and was still down on Wednesday morning. Shore Boulevard all the way up to the US Power Generating Co. plant on 21st Avenue flooded.
A piece of the old Polletti Power Plant, which was shut down years ago after pleas from officials and the community, flew off and hit the US Power plant. The incident was not responsible for any of the outages — including in Astoria, which had a few — Vallone said, but he reiterated that it was one of the many reasons why the dirty plant needs to be dismantled.
“Myself and the community have been asking the Power Authority to take it down for years,” Vallone said.
In Sunnyside seven large trees crashed down on Skillman Avenue — four at 48th Street and one each at 47th and 49th streets. A couple large branches fell on cars, but the businesses that line the avenue did not sustain any property damage.
“No damage here, which is amazing — touch wood,” said Steven Murphy, the owner of Murphy’s Bar on 49th Street and Skillman Avenue.
“It’s all right here,” said Soonae Tark, an artist who lives in Sunnyside.
In Jackson Heights there were a few trees down. On 32nd Avenue and 70th Street a tree fell on a car, starting a fire, according to Carlos Martinez with the Jackson Heights Beautification Group. He said neighbors teamed with the Sanitation and Parks departments to clean up the mess.
The JHBG decided to postpone its Halloween childrens’ parade this year due to the hurricane. Visit jhbg.org/2012/10/14/23rd-annual-chil drens-halloween-parade for updates for when the event may resume.
But again, for the most part, Western Queens was relatively unscathed compared to the major flooding and property damage in the Rockaways.
The storm killed at least 24 people in the city, Mayor Bloomberg said at a press conference held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. One of those was a Flushing resident who died when a tree crashed into his home, crushing him.
South Queens was among the areas especially hard hit. Areas south of the Belt Parkway were largely underwater Monday evening.
More than 100 houses in Breezy Point burned down, the latest reported number being 111. The home of U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (R-Queens, Brooklyn) was reportedly one of those destroyed.
Fire also destroyed many homes in Belle Harbor, Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) reported, and at least one Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department rig was burned.
More than 400,000 Con Ed customers lost power, utility CEO Kevin Burke said at Tuesday’s press conference with the mayor. Burke called the storm “an extraordinary event that devastated our system.”
Bloomberg said most people who lost power should not expect it to be restored before the weekend.
New York City subways remain suspended until further notice, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Bus service started with limited scheduling at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
On Wednesday morning cars were bumper to bumper with people who usually take mass transit to work opting to drive instead. Lines for buses ran for blocks with extra buses trying to make up for the massive gap in service the subway leaves.
Bloomberg advised people seeking storm-related financial aid to visit disasterassis tance.gov. President Obama declared New York a disaster area before Sandy even hit, speeding up the process for applying for aid. Details on various federal programs can be found atfema.gov/disaster/4085.