Even as we write this editorial, dozens of emergency crews continue to work around the clock to repair the damage left by the storm that devastated Queens and other parts of the city. In Queens alone it is estimated that 1,000 trees were uprooted by the powerful winds. Tens of thousands of residents were left without power and some still do not have it. Con Edison estimates that 45,000 customers citywide lost power during the storm.
Power to 90 percent of these homes was restored in just a few days. That is small comfort to residents still waiting for the lights to go on. It is understandable that residents waiting for emergency crews to get to their neighborhoods are frustrated and angry, but we are confident the city is doing everything it can to get life back to normal.
According to the mayor’s Office of Emergency Management, 575 people were working in Queens to clear away fallen trees. This is not a job that can be easily done by untrained volunteers. As the mayor noted in response to criticisms, you cannot put a power saw in just anyone’s hands.
According to the National Weather Service, the tornado that struck Queens Sept. 9 lasted a few minutes, but the winds that reached up to 125 mph caused millions of dollars in damage in Bayside, Forest Hills, Flushing, Middle Village, Maspeth and Rego Park.
Although tragic, it is a miracle only two people died as a result of this storm. Aline Levakis, a 30-year-old woman from Mechanicsburg, Pa., was killed when her car was struck by a tree on the Grand Central Parkway. A St. Albans man, Richie Bermudez, 57, was killed when he suffered an aneurysm as he tried to help the driver.
It would be an understatement to say that the devastating storm took the city by surprise. For that reason we question the reasoning F. Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Valley Civic Association, who rated the mayor and the NYPD an F for their response to the storm.
To the contrary, the hundreds of emergency personnel who worked around the clock to get the streets clear and the power back on deserve the borough’s gratitude. This was a team effort involving the NYPD, FDNY, OEM, the mayor’s office and others.