Friday, November 9, 2012

Queens Trees Hit Hardest By Hurricane Sandy

November 4, 2012. A fallen tree in front of 161 27th Avenue (corner of 12th Street) - Queens. About half of the 20,000-plus calls to the city’s 311 line for downed trees and branches as well as hanging limbs came from Queens after Hurricane Sandy.   (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)  Click on images to enlarge.


The majestic trees of Queens that help make it the city’s leafiest borough toppled in record numbers after the one-two punch of Hurricane Sandy and this week’s nor’easter.

About half of the 20,000-plus calls to the city’s 311 line for downed trees and branches as well as hanging limbs came from Queens after the super-storm, according to the New York Daily News.

And roughly 2,000 of the 3,000 requests received after the nor’easter were also traced to Queens.

Forestry crews from the city Parks Department — along with teams of outside contractors — have been working feverishly to clear blocked streets and remove trees from homes and cars.

“This is the worst I have ever seen,” Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said of the destruction left in Sandy’s wake. “This was spread all across the borough in every community board.”

Lewandowski said the trees were even more vulnerable because they were still full of leaves.

“Leaves act like a sail,” she said. “They allow that extra gust of wind to uproot the trees.”

Lewandowski said priority is given to trees in roadways.

“We need to clear all the streets first so we have a route for emergency vehicles if needed,” she said.

On a recent day, one crew tackled a fallen oak tree in Holliswood. Workers used chainsaws to chop the trunk and branches and a log loader to haul it away.

“Every day we get a map,” said Shawn Maerz, deputy director of Queens forestry for the Parks Department. “First we go to the streets that are impassable and we open them up.”

Astoria Park. A 75-year-old oak lays on the ground, one of approximately 18 trees the park lost as a result of the hurricane. 

But sometimes crews are delayed by hanging wires and other electrical hazards.

“We call Con Ed and wait for them to turn them off,” he said. “That’s the most dangerous part of this job.”

Workers also use large cranes to remove trees that have fallen into homes.

The painstaking job will take months to complete.

As of Friday, crews had cleared 2,943 of the 10,324 calls about downed trees and limbs reported in the borough.

On top of that, they received an additional 2,150 calls after Wednesday night’s nor’easter.

“We were hit the hardest in Queens,” Maerz said. “We always are.”

Along with oaks, the crews picked up maples, London planes and many other species of trees.

While the fallen wood may look pristine and ripe for home improvement projects, all of it is off-limits.

“This is a quarantine zone for the Asian longhorned beetle,” said Maerz. “It all has to get chipped.”

Some of that work is done at nearby Cunningham Park, which can accommodate large chippers and equipment.

Lewandowski urged people with downed trees and other problems to continue to call 311 or go to the city’s website and report them.

“People might be frustrated by the backlog but it really tells us what’s going on out there,” Lewandowski said. “We certainly have our challenges before us. It will take a few months before we fully clean up.”

Read More:

No comments:

Post a Comment