Local residents are calling the fierce storm that barreled through northeast Queens and western Nassau recently – and the cleanup in its aftermath – miraculous.
The storm, a “microburst” with straight-line winds that may have reached 100 m.p.h. according to the National Weather Service, struck shortly after 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 24, moving so rapidly that in many places it lasted barely 10 minutes.
In moments, massive trees were uprooted or shattered, bringing down utility lines and street lights, in some cases snapping utility poles like twigs. Service on the Port Washington Line of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) had to be suspended temporarily, in part due to storm debris on the tracks.
From city officials such as 111th Precinct commander Captain Ronald Leyson to Con Ed spokesperson Bob McGee, to J. Douglas Montgomery, vice president of the Douglaston Garden Club and city-certified tree pruner, there was unanimous agreement.
“It was a miracle that nobody was killed or severely injured.”
In the vicinity of the Little Neck LIRR station, as in other places, the carnage on Little Neck Parkway was highlighted by pyrotechnics as live wires did a lethal dance.
The more secluded and formerly tree-lined sections of Little Neck and Douglaston were devastated, especially the Douglas Manor peninsula, when a centuries-old behemoth crashed through power lines, blocking the entire intersection of Douglaston Parkway/West Street and Ridge Road, the neighborhood evacuation route.
“Douglaston was just hammered,” said Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski, who noted they received 240 calls. “It was a very concentrated storm.”
“The Police, Fire Department, Parks and Sanitation Departments and Con Ed did a fantastic job,” Montgomery said. “Between uprooted or damaged, more than 250 trees were blocking roads in the Manor. Before the weekend was out, power was restored and all the roads were open.”
McGee confirmed that the last customers blacked-out by the storm had their power restored by 8 p.m. on Friday. A police source said that, despite rumors, there were no reported thefts or burglaries in the area. “The precinct and the Borough [Command] had unmarked cars there throughout – we had it under control,” the source said.
Perhaps the most fortunate “miracle man” of the weekend, Fred Ganzer, sat watching Con Ed crews working across Beverly Road on Friday afternoon, from the shade of a small tree on his front lawn.
He was surrounded by branches of the enormous hardwood tree that fell across the road, feeling very lucky.
“I was outside checking on my car when the tree went down,” he recounted. “It crushed the car, but it missed me and the house,” he continued, pointing to a slight scrape on his left cheek.