Hurricane killed 12 people in Queens

Hurricane killed 12 people in Queens
AP Photo/Jake Pearson
By Christina Santucci

Relatives of a 77-year-old man who slipped and fell down a dark stairwell in the Hammels Houses the day after Hurricane Sandy said the effects of the patriarch’s death have not faded.

“Are we alive? Yes. Do we miss my dad? Yes. Are things back to normal? No,” said Allison McSwain-Lockett, whose father Albert McSwain, was among 12 Queens people whose deaths were attributed by city officials to the superstorm. “It is what it is.”

Ten people died in the Rockaways during and after the superstorm, a 30-year-old man was killed when a tree crashed through the roof of his house in Flushing, and a 23-year-old woman was electrocuted when she stepped on a live wire in Richmond Hill, according to the Police Department.

Of those 10 deaths on the peninsula, the most recent was announced in June when the city medical examiner said a 62-year-old man had died in the storm surge. Keith Lancaster was discovered inside his Rockaway Beach Boulevard trailer in April, and the medical examiner said two months later he had accidentally drowned.

Other Rockaway fatalities attributed to Sandy were scattered through the peninsula.

Henry Sullivan, 50, and mail carrier Rick Gold, 67, died in Belle Harbor; George Stathis, 90, and Nancy Sorenson, 50, in Rockaway Park; David Gotthelf, 72, and Santina Reilly, 87, in Rockaway Beach; William McKeon, 78 in Seaside; and Eden Toussaint, 58, in Arverne.

Neighbors had described Reilly as the cat lady of the block.

A U.S. Army veteran and retired custodian of the NYPD’s Police Academy, McSwain was found on the bottom of a blackened stairwell in the apartment complex where he lived with his daughter and his family, the Police Department said.

His daughter said she and McSwain had decided to go outside to get some air, and when she returned from fetching a flashlight, she found him.

“As we come up to the anniversary to reflect on what happened, I wish he was back,” she said. “Now I can go to Calverton cemetery in Long Island, but I have memories.”

Reach managing editor Christina Santucci by e-mail at timesledgerphotos@gmail.com by phone at 718-260-4589.