Storm brings flooding, gas shortages to western Queens

Long Island City resident Sal Vito points out where the storm surge rose on 47th Road near Center Boulevard during Hurricane Sandy. Photo by Rebecca Henely
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While northwestern Queens was not hit as hard as other parts of the borough during Superstorm Sandy, residents were still feeling its effects after the waters receded and the skies cleared.

State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said Wednesday that with the No. 7 train down and stations running out of gas, many residents in his district struggled to get into work. He tried to arrange local liveries to take residents to their jobs for a flat rate, but they had shortages of gas as well. One of the few stations with gas in his district, on 97th Street in Corona, had a line going back to Citi Field.

“We need a solution and we need a solution fast,” Peralta said.

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said while no residents of the neighborhood had died, floodwaters rose over Gantry State Park, flooding basements and shorting out power supplies in the neighborhood Monday evening.

He said in the wake of the flooding long-term thought needed to be given to make sure the Hunters Point section of Long Island City was fully safe and prepared.

“We’ve had two hurricanes now in two years,” he said, referring to Sandy and August 2011’s Hurricane Irene, both of which caused flooding in Long Island City.

The Foundry Condominium, at 2-40 51st St. in Long Island City, was swamped by the storm. Resident Debbie Demarse said the basement and the first floor flooded as did the garage. The building lost power by 11 p.m. and at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, a car in the garage caught on fire. The Foundry still did not have power by Thursday afternoon.

Residents were not the only ones hit. Day workers at PS 78, at 48-09 Center Blvd. in Long Island City said the school took on a foot and a half of water.

“Every carpet is soaked. Every carpet is damaged,” one worker said.

Long Island City residents said many cars were also flooded during the storm. Heath Tucker, resident of 48th Avenue and Vernon Boulevard, said he saw one motorist scramble to get his car before the floodwaters rose.

“The water was just getting in his car and he got down in time to move it,” Tucker said.

To add insult to nature’s injury, many residents said their flooded cars had been burglarized.

Irwin Applebaum, a Long Island resident who had been told to evacuate and came to see his son in Long Island City, woke up to find his Acura full of leaves and mud, one of his car doors unlocked, his car windows down and his carjack on the ground near his tire. Since his trunk wouldn’t open, he guessed the burglars had tried to take his tire with his own tools.

“Somebody scared them,” Applebaum said. “I don’t know what happened.”

Long Island City’s neighbors were also not spared Sandy’s wrath. LaGuardia International Airport in East Elmhurst was still closed for business Wednesday due to flooding, but opened Thursday morning.

In Astoria, the USPowergen plant sustained flooding, but ended up ultimately going offline until Wednesday due to being hit by pieces of the closed Charles Poletti Power Plant, said City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria). He wrote a letter to the New York Power Authority Wednesday demanding answers.

“It happened because the state has yet to get rid of the old Poletti Plant and has yet to say why,” Vallone said.

Trees went down due to high winds from Astoria to East Elmhurst to Corona and Sunnyside and Woodside.

“There were some trees that came down during Irene but nowhere near the number down today,” Van Bramer said Tuesday.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Posted 3:45 am, November 2, 2012
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Reader feedback

wOODSIDE GUY from woodside says:
Since when did LaGuardia Airport become an InternationL AIRPORT. YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE A LOCAL PAPER?
Nov. 11, 2012, 10:57 pm

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