By Phil Corso
Nearly one week after Hurricane Sandy swept through Little Neck downing trees and power lines, Richard Kops and his wife Marcia killed time outside their darkened home off 57th Avenue. The only scenery in front of them included unattended trees and power lines that had fallen days earlier.
And although the Kops family said they understood it may take time for Consolidated Edison crews to restore power to their home, located in a cul-de-sac split in two by fallen trees and electricity poles, safety was still a primary concern.
“People are trapped in here behind a dead-end street and we don’t even know if it is safe or not,” Richard Kops said. “At this point, the problem is communication.”
Inside their driveway sat Marcia Kops’ car with a full tank of gas in the middle of a severe gas shortage in the Northeast after Hurricane Sandy battered the region. But because of the downed lines, uplifted sidewalks and police tape scattered down the street, the Kops said they were too afraid to try driving over power lines that Con Ed crews told neighbors may still be live.
“What is electrified here? We don’t know,” Marcia Kops said.
To make matters worse, Kops said many of the homeowners along the cul-de-sac moved their cars to the dead-end uphill to avoid floodwaters. They have since been trapped in by fallen storm debris.
While neither the city nor Con Ed has acted to remove the fallen trees and power lines on 260th Street, two Con Ed workers have been guarding the downed lines, identifying themselves as guards for the surrounding homes. Larry Wisotsky, who lives behind the fallen lines and is unable to leave the cul-de-sac without passing the potentially dangerous wires, said there has been little done to make the situation any better.
“Con Ed has no clue,” Wisotsky said. “They have no timetable. They are just guarding the wires to make sure nobody goes near them.”
According to Con Ed, homes in that area of Little Neck should have their electricity restored by Friday.
In a plea for help, Marcia Kops said she tried calling their elected officials, but to no avail. Even though the Kops family has received little in terms of communication about their lives returning to normal, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) has remained outspoken against the city’s response to Superstorm Sandy.
Over the weekend, Avella criticized the city Parks Department for not acting quickly enough in removing fallen trees in northeast Queens, leaving trapped residents waiting.
“Residents have suffered enough damage and now they are being told that they have to wait between 30 and 50 days to get the tree that fell on top of their home removed,” Avella said. “This is simply intolerable when any sudden shift can further damage a resident’s home.”
So until the city or Con Ed takes action on the fallen trees and electricity poles on 260th Street, the Kops family will have no choice but to wait like so many others in northeast Queens still without power one week after the storm.
“Forget about the cars getting through. What about emergency responders?” Marcia Kops said. “It’s not just us either. This is happening to everyone. Everyone’s frustrated.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.