Hurricane Sandy slams Long Island City

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Photo gallery

Irwin Applebaum from Long Island surveys his car in Long island City. He said that thieves tried to steal his tire with his own jack. Photo by Rebecca Henely
Debris marks the water line in Long Island City where the storm surge reached during the storm. Photo by Rebecca Henely
A rainbow briefly appears over the East River. Photo by Rebecca Henely

Hunters Point in Long Island City, many blocks of which were in the city’s designated Zone A, sustained significant flood damage as tropic storm Sandy spread its devastation across the borough.

Among the Queens’ victims who suffered severe damage was U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (R-Forest Hills), whose house in Breezy Point was one of more than 80 burned down as wind and water lashed the peninsula, according to a spokesman in his Washington, D.C. office. Turner and his wife escaped from the blaze.

Back in Long Island City, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) tweeted a picture from a constituent Monday night showing the East River rising up and covering Gantry State Park on Center Boulevard and 48th Avenue. But floodwaters went much further.

Roberto Mitrotti, of 51st Avenue between 5th Street and Vernon Boulevard, said he and his wife Christina were one of the few on their block who did not lose their electricity or see their basement underwater, even though it was lapping at their steps around 9 p.m. Monday.

“We saw it moving inch by inch in a matter of 15 minutes,” Roberto Mitrotti said.

Neighbor Margaret Reilly said her basement flooded when her sump pump could not keep up with the water coming in, although by midday Tuesday the water was out of her basement.

“It was a very exciting night, but we survived,” she said.

The Foundry Condominium at 2-40 51st St. in LIC was very hard hit 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 still did not have it back by midday Tuesday. At 12:30 a.m., a car in the garage caught on fire.

While Long Island City experienced some flooding during Hurricane Irene, Demarse said this was far worse.

“I think it caught a lot of people by surprise,” she said.

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.”

Despite the damage and high winds still lingering from Sandy, many residents took advantage of the receded waters and milder weather to enjoy Gantry State Park Tuesday. At 11 a.m., the neighborhood’s first hint of sunshine in days created a beautiful rainbow over the gates.

“Everything’s going to be OK,” Tucker said.

Updated 12:30 pm, November 3, 2012
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Reader feedback

Peter G from Out of Town says:
Margaret Reilly is a Rock Star
Oct. 31, 2012, 9:16 pm

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