Wednesday, October 31, 2012

City Loses Tens Of Thousands Of Trees - Hundreds In Central Park

City and Federal Parks Remain Closed

The Great Lawn - Central Park.  34 people have lost lives in the city as a result of Hurricane Sandy so far. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.



By Geoffrey Croft

Hurricane Sandy unleashed its deadly furry across the five boroughs.

Trees smashed into homes and cars and were directly responsible for killing at least three people. At least 34 people have lost thier lives, while others are still missing. 

Tens of thousands of trees were lost throughout city streets and in parks during the violent storm. 

"We lost hundreds of trees," said Central Park Conservancy head Doug Blonsky. 

The conservancy estimates they lost approximately 250 trees.

"The damage was not concentrated to certain areas this time, it was throughout the park."

"Thankfully we have plenty of crews both in-house and contracted out.  We were also lucky we did not lose any structures." 

Mr. Blonsky said Maples, Oaks and Linden trees were the hardest hit.

Cnetral Park - Merchant's Gate entrance.  South West corner of the park near Columbus Circle.

He said the park was shut until further notice to remove dangerous trees and survey the damage.

Asked when he thought the park might re-open he replied, "Maybe Thursday."

In Central Park metal barriers weighted down with sandbags were installed at entrances to prevent the public from accessing the park's 843 acres.  For the most part the public complied.

Yesterday morning Mr. Blonsky was seen opening up a barrier to let a stray female runner out of the park at Fifth Avenue and 90th Street.  

A number of large trees were lost in the Great Lawn, one crashed through a backstop. On the South West corner of the park near the Columbus Circle Merchant's Gate entrance tourists snapped photos of two large fallen trees.

A number of downed trees could also be seen along and from the park perimeter. 

W. 83rd St & Central Park West.  A tree dangles precariously in the park and onto Central Park West.  

This Sunday's NYC Marathon was another factor.

"It's a mess,"  said another Conservancy Park worker checking on fallen trees.  

"We trying to get it ready for the Marathon, there's a lot of pressure."

While playgrounds remained locked throughout the city the rest of the parks made due with  yellow caution tape strung across park entrances which many people ignored. Park Enforcement Parol and NYPD officers guarded some parks and interior roads and instructed the public to exit. 

Throughout the city crews are working feverishly to clear away trees and debris.  Downed trees were also littered across the city's parkways.

"The priority is to clear the street trees, and roads not inside the park," said one Parks Department gardener working a chain saw in the Bronx.

A woman examines a downed tree in Pelham Bay Park.  The city's largest park lost hundreds of trees. 

Hundreds of trees littered the ground of the city's largest park,  Pelham Bay in the Bronx. 

A handful of workers were seen scattered throughout the park removing trees and clearing away. A few people walked dogs and carefully navigated ignoring the park's closed status.

The Park's main sign was blown into the ground. 

The Department of Sanitation crews had multiple vehicles set up in the parking lot of Orchard Beach.

In Marcus Garvey Park, DPR employees using chain saws cleared away fallen trees. By mid-afternoon crews had removed a tree at a park entrance on 5th Avenue and 120th Street.  

A large Oak tree that crashed into the outfield of the baseball field remained. A 9-year-old girl was seen climbing on top of the limbs much to her father's disapproval.

The city said it received more than 7000 calls for downed trees. 

The last few years has been tough for the Middle Village community who has seen it's share of storm damage including from Hurricane Irene in 2011.

Firemen attach chain to tree on 78th St & 58 Avenue to pull it off a house in Middle Village Queens.  (Photo: Robert Holden/Juniper Valley Park Civic Association)

"Almost every block in the neighborhood had trees or major limbs down,"  said Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Valley Park Civic Association. 

"Some people were trapped and had to be rescued. Many trees are still blocking the streets. Thankfully we did not have the rain. We were lucky compared to other areas. We've had no loss of life as far as we know."

"We hope there is an aggressive tree pruning program," he said.

Mr. Holden said half the people had no power.

"A lot of seniors are calling, they're worried."

He said the August 2011 micro-bust which ripped thought selected commuunities in the city and destroyed thousands of trees and properties was the worst. 

"It's been a tough last few years ," Mr. Holden said.

"We've lost a lot of mature trees. It's heart breaking."

Rockway Beach lost dozens of blocks of its historic boardwalk.

Residents stand on the remains of part of the historic Rockaway boardwalk  in Queens after large parts of it were washed away during Hurricane Sandy on October 31, 2012.  (Photo: Getty Images)

The foundations of the historic Rockaway Boardwalk and other Parks Department facilites in Queens are all that remain after it was washed away. (Photo:  Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Staten Island was hit particularly hard.

Officials have confirmed that 12  people have died as a result of the storm. Many people had to be evacuated from their homes.

Police and rescue personnel are still searching for Connor and Brandon Moore, ages 2 and 4 who were washed away from their mothers arms when their suv was swept away into wetlands off of Fr. Capodano Blvd below Sand Lane on Monday. 

Tens of thousands of residents are without power.

300,000 gallons of diesel fuel have leaked into the Arthur Kill from the Motiva oil tank facility according to the Coast Guard. Oil has started to wash up in Smith Creek.

The death toll in the city has risen to 34, and was expected to go up. 

The Hurricane has caused billions of dollars in damage, it has destroyed more than a hundred homes and more than 400, 000 lost power. 

Central Park - Closed.  Police prevent the public from accessing the park at the Engineers' Gate entrance at Fifth Avenue & 90th St.  (Photos Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge

The Great Lawn.  Three downed trees. Field # 4 - A ballfield backstop in damaged by a fallen tree.

W. 83rd St. & Central Park West. 

An Oak tree crashed through a 16 foot high chain-link fence and into the outfield in Marcus Garvey Park. 

Marcus Garvey Park - Crews clear a downed tree blocking a path. 

Marcus Garvey Park. A father watches his 9-year-old girl climb on an Oak tree that fell into the baseball field. 

Marcus Garvey Park - Oak tree that fell into the baseball field.  

Marcus Garvey Park - Oak tree that fell into the baseball field. 

MillBrook Playground - Bronx.

Pelham Bay Park -  The  park's main sign was blown to the ground.

Pelham Bay Park - Park Enforcement Officers guard the road leading into Orchard Beach. 

Pelham Bay Park - Two trees and a lamp post.

Pelham Bay Park - Parks Department forestry crews go to work.

Pelham Bay Park - In the city largest park hundreds of downed trees litter the landscape.

Pelham Bay Park. 

Pelham Bay Park - A Parks Department worker clears a park entrance.

Pelham Bay Park

Gerard Avenue & E. 146th Street. 

York Avenue and E. 91St Street. A Department of Sanitation crew cleans up near the Asphalt Green

The Great Lawn.  Three downed trees. Field # 4 - A ballfield backstop in damaged by a fallen tree.

A number of trees fell around the Great Lawn in Central Park.    

The Great Lawn.  

The Great Lawn.

Firemen attach chain to tree on 78th St & 58 Avenue to pull it off a house in Middle Village Queens.  (Photos: Robert Holden/Juniper Valley Park Civic Association) 

 74th St near Pleasantview St, owner of vehicle walks by thankful that tree fell on car instead of her house.

 80th Street just north of Juniper Blvd North

Juniper Valley Park near Pullis Cemetery on Juniper Blvd North  

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