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Local News November 2, 2012  RSS feed

News From The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association

Sandy’s Aftermath In Woodhaven
by Alexander Blenkinsopp

Woodhaven, though it took a beating from Hurricane Sandy, is counting its blessings right now. Compared to some of our neighbors, we fared well.

Breezy Point looks like a war zone, with dozens of houses lost to fire—including that of our congressman, Bob Turner. In Belle Harbor, too, fires destroyed numerous homes. Broad Channel reportedly suffered devastating flooding. We’ve seen worrying reports from Lindenwood, Howard Beach, and all over the Rockaway Peninsula. And beyond, we’ve heard about inundated tunnels, a crane collapse, hospital evacuations, and a crippled transit system. Over a dozen people lost their lives in New York, and millions are without electricity.

Elsewhere in this newspaper, you can read the details of what Queens has been going through.

In Woodhaven, we’re dealing with about two dozen large trees that have fallen, in several cases on cars or houses. In many cases, the trees were totally uprooted. Downed power lines, a few fallen utility poles,

sporadic electrical outages, and a few blocked streets are the bulk of the damage to our neighborhood. Perhaps most strikingly, our beloved Christmas tree at the corner of Forest Parkway and Jamaica Avenue has fallen. The tree has been rated one of the top holiday trees in the city, and every year around the holidays,Woodhaven gathers at Forest Parkway Plaza for the tree lighting. Local schoolchildren make ornaments and hang them on the tree. We’re sad to have lost this Woodhaven icon.

A tree also fell on the Forest Park Carousel, damaging the roof but leaving the actual ride unscathed. The carousel had just closed for the season, and we look forward to seeing it as good as new next year. Sanitation crews responded quickly to clear fallen trees blocking parts of Woodhaven Boulevard, which is a major thoroughfare and emergency route.

Woodhaven was exposed to dangerous conditions. The cars that were crushed, the houses that sustained thousands of dollars of damage, and the power lines dangling onto the street are ample evidence of that. Many in our neighborhood have been inconvenienced by Hurricane Sandy. But we are thankful not to have received word of any injuries in Woodhaven.

was in touch with one friend from Howard Beach told me about how everything on the first floor of her home was ruined by flooding.

Another friend from Breezy Point was unsure whether his house survived. It underscored how lucky we in Woodhaven are.

The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association managed to keep track of the damage in the neighborhood through our “block captains” program— a network of point people throughout the neighborhood who monitor the situation on their blocks and provide updates to the WRBA. We also used Facebook and Twitter to alert neighbors to important news. We instructed our community to use 311, not 911, for non-emergency calls. And we relayed a call for volunteers to work at an emergency evacuation center and shelter at Franklin K. Lane High School. By the time you read this, cleanup— and, in some cases, reconstruction— will be underway throughout New York City. We are grateful to the many first responders who put themselves at risk to serve or rescue those in need. We appreciate the efforts of the many other city, state, and federal personnel, as well as numerous volunteers, who are working to get New York back on its feet. And our thoughts are with those who fared much worse than we in Woodhaven did.

Editor’s note: Blenkinsopp is a member of Community Board 9 and director of communications for the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association. For more information on the WRBA, visit www.woodhaven-nyc.org.