Family seeks city assistance as fallen tree looms over house

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Photo gallery

A car is crushed by a tree on 194th Street in Flushing. Photo by Joe Anuta
A tree lies in a yard on 175th and Fresh Meadows Lane. Photo by Joe Anuta
George and his mother Debbie Giannopoulos point to desstruction left after the storm. Photo by Joe Anuta
The parking lot inf Flushing Meadows Corona Park is filled with water.
A sign for the Long Island Expressway is toppled. Photo by Joe Anuta

Superstorm Sandy turned the streets of northeast Queens into a life-sized maze Monday night, downing trees to block off roads and tearing down power lines in a destructive series of events that created outages for nearly 20,000 customers around Auburndale and Fresh Meadows, but for one Auburndale family, the ordeal went on for days.

A partially downed tree is looming over the 194th Street house of Bill Daley, propped just above the live power lines in front by a sturdier tree that caught the falling behemouth.

“That’s the second time that tree has saved my house,” he said. But time is running out.

The supporting tree has a large fissure near the base of the trunk that is growing by the minute. On Tuesday afternoon Daley said the crack had grown one-sixteenth of an inch in one hour.

Wednesday afternoon, a Sanitation Police officer who showed up was so shocked that he offered his own house for the Daleys to stay in. When the city Parks Department came to asses how to get the tree down, an official said that Consolidated Edison would have to shut down the power before anything could be done.

“Everything is still the same,” said Daley’s daughter Alison.

At about 4 p.m. Monday the enormous tree began to lift up the sidewalk across from the Daley’s home as it teetered in the wind. As it came crashing down, the Giannopoulos family ran to the back of their house.

“We heard it start to crack and saw the cement lift up,” said George Giannopoulos.

When it fell, the trunk completely crushed the family’s white 2010 Subaru.

In Fresh Meadows, fallen trees blocked traffic at seemingly every turn as neighbors raked up smaller branches and landscape crews fed limbs into wood chippers. The large number of downed trees corresponded to the large number of people without power.

According to Consolidated Edison, 18,500 customers in the area were without power as of Tuesday evening, while boroughwide the numbers reached more than 100,000.

Downtown Flushing was mostly spared by Sandy’s destructive forces, with streetlights and power operating normally Tuesday.

According to Con Ed, there were only sporadic outages in the downtown area.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 2:22 am, August 15, 2013
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Reader feedback

Rhea O'Gorman from Auburndale says:
Fallen trees entwined in power lines are an all to common sight in and around the North Flushing Auburndale area. 168th Street between 45th and 46 Avenue, the block on which PS 107 is located is one such sight. Surely a block on which an elementary school is set to open tomorrow morning and which will be a polling place on Tuesday should qualify as a priority or does the safety of school children not matter in this city. Ps 32 is in a similar situation.
Nov. 4, 2012, 9:18 pm

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