Northwest Queens helps neighbors during Sandy

Many Astoria residents bought water, food and supplies to City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.’s office to aid those in the Rockaways. Photo courtesy Vallone’s Facebook
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Mindful of greater problems elsewhere in the borough, northwestern Queens residents have been donating supplies for their neighbors in the Rockaways, but Astoria and Long Island City are still suffering transportation limits and power outages days after Superstorm Sandy ripped through the city.

“We’re all working together. We’re all pitching in together,” said City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside). “The only thing good to come out of that is to see how good people really are.”

Van Bramer, state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) have been collecting supplies at their district offices from residents.

Vallone said he had received many calls from residents asking where to donate before he told them to bring food and clothing to his office.

“The people here in northwest Queens are way more concerned with helping those in other areas, and that says a lot about them,” Vallone said.

However, Vallone said the gas shortages have made it impossible for his office to bring the supplies down to the Rockaways.

“Because of the fact that there’s no gas, we’re having a great deal of difficulty getting this stuff there,” he said. “That’s an outrage.”

Vallone said for those in need in his district, obtaining aid has been difficult as well. Astoria Houses still has no power, and residents were told they would get food and water at 1 p.m. Thursday, but it did not arrive until 8:30 p.m.

“These people stood outside for a long time,” Vallone said. “Things are absolutely not going as well as some would like us to believe.”

Getting to work remains challenging for northwestern Queens residents. Peralta said when the No. 7 line service was restored from Main Street-Flushing to 74th Street-Roosevelt Avenue, it helped his district’s residents get to Manhattan, with many Jackson Heights and Corona residents heading to the city by going downstairs at 74th Street and transferring to the F or M lines.

Yet for those in Woodside, Sunnyside and Long Island City, the No. 7 train remains suspended. Van Bramer said besides the flooding in the tunnels leading to Manhattan, the No. 7 line also had signal problems that he hoped would be fixed soon. In the meantime, residents have been getting to work via trains, cabs or carpooling.

“They’re doing everything, everything under the sun, but it is a brutal commute,” Van Bramer said. “That’s a serious issue and we need the service back.”

Long Island City suffered from flooding during the storm surge, and some residents in large complexes have been told they will not have power until Nov. 10 or Nov. 11, which Van Bramer called too long to wait.

PS 78 on 48-09 Center Blvd., which took on a foot and a half of water during the storm, will be opening Monday at PS 76 at 36-36 10th St., Vallone said.

On Twitter, the forum Jackson Heights Life said some cars along 35th Avenue in the high 70s had their tires intentionally punctured. Peralta said while he had not heard any complaints, he was monitoring the situation.

Despite the struggles, the officials emphasized that their residents are eager to help others in the borough.

“It’s all about coming together at a time of need and this is a time of need,” Peralta said.

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

Updated 12:30 pm, November 3, 2012
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