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Seeing the Forest for the Trees

September 28, 2010 4 comments
Forest Hills Gardens, Queens

Image via Wikipedia

One positive thing the tornado did for me was make me appreciate, of all things, trees! I am not joking. After seeing the scary sight of all those enormous trees brought down by the storm, I walked through the Gardens this past weekend and for the first time really appreciated the amazing trees that are still standing. Boy, are we blessed in this area with some awesome trees! They must be some of the oldest in the City.

Anyway, I came across this interesting story in The Times about how a tree clearing crew from Tennessee has been in the City since the storm helping with the recovery:

By REBECCA WHITE
Published: September 27, 2010
The Cherokee Hotshots, an elite forestry crew, came to New York City to clear the debris from two tornadoes.

Map of Tornado Damage

September 25, 2010 3 comments

It occurred to me that I haven’t seen a map of the local path and damage from the tornado. This is a work in progress and by no means complete. Please let me know your suggestions for additions and any changes. I am going just by incidents on the day of the tornado that I have learned about; I am sure there are a lot more I do not know about, so feel free to point them out to me so I can add them.

Click here for the map: http://www.scribblemaps.com/maps/view/BoOmHdmlWG

I am adding photos of what Anonymous is referring to in the comment below about the building across from Kennedy House. I checked it out today and was able to snap a couple of photos (sorry, it was hard to get even these because of the rain storm and I couldn’t get a shot of the entire building.)

Tornado Cleanup Planned for Today

September 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Re-posting this letter that was forwarded on to me:

An email from Joseph Lara is below. An important Forest Hills cleanup from the tornado is arranged for this Saturday at 2 PM. We are seeking volunteers. Please help, and also forward to as many parties as possible. Thank you!

Hello All,

I’m sending this out to the members of Kiwanis, the heads of some civic organizations in the area, and the religious leaders in our community.  I’d like to make a plea to you all tonight.

Since last Thursday, much of the residential parts of Forest Hills have been in shambles due to the Tornado.  I had the honor of working with the Forest Hills Community Church last weekend, and I have to say it humbled me so much.  For me, this community is not only my home and where I work, but it made me what I am today.  I got my start here and Forest Hills was there for me and has supported my magazines for the last four years.  Now it’s my turn to give back to a town that has given me so much.

To my fellow Kiwanians, as I mentioned at our meeting earlier, this is what being in a civic organization is all about.  Sure, it’s great to have lunch and network, but being part of this club and what we have the power to do in one afternoon, is so much bigger than any of us.  As Kiwanians, we must answer the call when our community needs us, we have no other choice.

To this extent, I am organizing a community cleanup this Saturday, September 25, 2010.  We will be meeting in Station Square around 2 pm, and whether you can donate an hour of your time, or a whole afternoon, anything we can get will be much appreciated.  I am attaching a list below of what we’ll need, besides sheer manpower.  I’ll pick up some jab saws (they look like giant knives with teeth and wood handles, and believe it or not they were our best tool last weekend) at Home Depot before Saturday.

-Saws – Gas powered chain saws, jab saws, reciprocating saws, hacksaws, and bolt cutters.  The wood is pretty soft in the trees around here, so the jab saws and hack saws work great.  If you’re bringing reciprocating saws, make sure you have extra batteries as they run out fast and long blades.  The bolt cutters are also great for popping branches off.

-Carts – If anyone has those rolling carts that we use to do laundry or go grocery shopping, one or two of those can be a great help.  There are many places where it may be too hard to get in with vehicles, so those may be our best bet.  We can also line a small one with a garbage bag and fill it with ice and bottles of water as it gets very dry out there when we’re working.

-Gloves – everybody has to bring work gloves, and if you have, wear some sturdy boots or shoes.  Branches will cut and scrape you all up if you’re working barehanded.  We also ran into some instances last weekend where there are pieces of roofing hidden in the brush with very long nails in them that will not hesitate to go through your foot.

Lastly, I just want to thank everybody again, whether you can help us on Saturday or not, just for taking the time to read this.  I look forward to seeing, hopefully many of you on Saturday.  If you have friends or know people you think may be interested, please forward this on to them.

All my best,

Joseph M. Lara
Owner/Publisher
Forest Hills Celebrity & Entertainment Magazine
Astoria Celebrity & Entertainment Magazine
(908) 310-1659
jmlara@comcast.net

Severe Thunderstorms Possible This Evening

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

The weather folks are saying to be extra careful this afternoon/evening as any thunderstorms that do erupt may bring down trees or branches already weakened or hanging precariously due to the tornado.

..STRONG THUNDERSTORMS WILL IMPACT BERGEN…BRONX…ESSEX… FAIRFIELD…HUDSON…KINGS (BROOKLYN)…NASSAU…NEW YORK (MANHATTAN)…NORTHERN UNION…PASSAIC…QUEENS…ROCKLAND…SOUTHERN ORANGE…WESTCHESTER AND WESTERN SUFFOLK COUNTIES…

AT 728 PM EDT…NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR WAS TRACKING STRONG THUNDERSTORMS ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM GREENWOOD LAKE TO FLORHAM PARK…OR ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM SLOATSBURG TO MADISON…AND MOVING EAST AT 45 MPH.

PEOPLE IN BERGEN…BRONX…ESSEX…FAIRFIELD…HUDSON…KINGS (BROOKLYN)…NASSAU…NEW YORK (MANHATTAN)…NORTHERN UNION… PASSAIC…QUEENS…ROCKLAND…SOUTHERN ORANGE…WESTCHESTER AND WESTERN SUFFOLK COUNTIES…INCLUDING POMPTON LAKES…RINGWOOD… BLOOMINGDALE…GREENWOOD LAKE…SUMMIT…FAIRFIELD…MILLBURN… SLOATSBURG…WAYNE AND CALDWELL…SHOULD MONITOR THE WEATHER SITUATION CLOSELY. LISTEN FOR POSSIBLE WARNINGS AND BE PREPARED TO TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION SHOULD SEVERE WEATHER THREATEN.

HAIL UP TO NICKEL SIZE…AND GUSTY WINDS UP TO 50 MPH ARE EXPECTED WITH THESE STORMS. IN ADDITION…VERY HEAVY RAIN…WITH RAINFALL RATES OF UP TO ONE AND ONE HALF INCHES AN HOUR…IS OCCURRING WITH THESE STORMS. THIS COULD CAUSE PONDING OF WATER ON ROADWAYS… AND MINOR FLOODING OF POOR DRAINAGE AREAS.

LIGHTNING IS ONE OF NATURES NUMBER ONE KILLERS. REMEMBER…IF YOU CAN HEAR THUNDER…YOU ARE CLOSE ENOUGH TO BE STRUCK BY LIGHTNING. MOVE TO SAFE SHELTER IMMEDIATELY.

Stadium Vote Postponed

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Wow, a lot of stuff to report on today. Michael Perlman, over at the Rego-Forest Preservation Council website, is reporting that the all-important West Side Tennis Club vote on the future of the Tennis Stadium has been postponed due to the tornado until Oct. 7th. Read more about it here: Forest Hills Tennis Stadium Becomes Shelter During Tornado & WSTC Voting Day Postponed.

The Tornado’s Hit on Local History

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Here is a link to a great article from The Daily News on how the tornado impacted many historical structures here in Forest Hills and nearby communities: Historic Buildings Take Some Hits, But Live On.

By the way, I have seen several people referring to the storm as a “Macroburst.” It’s slightly annoying to me, just because I have heard that term very rarely used (I have been a ‘weather enthusiast,’ as they say, all my life). Anyway, I know in the section of Forest Hills that I live in, over near Grand Central Parkway, it was definitely a tornado because the darn thing went right over my apartment building while I was home. I have experienced straight-line winds from thunderstorms many times in the past (if anyone remembers the Diana Ross Central Park concert from many years ago, that was one instance of them). These were no macrobursting straight line winds. The thing rumbled and roared by like a freight train for about 30 seconds as it continued on its destructive path. No straight line winds or macroburst do that. Those types of winds last about a second as they bowl over everything in their path. This was unlike anything I have ever experienced, and until now I have never experienced a tornado! Now, if there is a real meteorologist reading this who wants to chime in, please do.

One theory I have is that the National Weather Service is so unused to tornadoes in the New York City area that they don’t quite know what to make of what happened. They flew around over our town in their helicopter and said to themselves, “Gee whiz, I see a lot of trees down. But there are barely any buildings blown away. Must be a Macroburst!”

Could it be that our buildings, constructed, as many of them were, so many years ago, were simply built better and sturdier than the modern structures the National Weather Service is so used to typically seeing easily flattened by the tornadoes out in the central U.S.? Just a theory.

Addendum: I was just thinking about this a few minutes after this post and wanted to add a couple of things. If this was indeed a tornado accompanied by a so-called “macroburst,” I just find it kind of bemusing. Just because as if we all didn’t have enough to worry about, now we have this new weather phenomenon that suddenly joins the ranks of hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, etc. I did a quick Google search and could not find any info on when the term “Macroburst” first started being used, or when this phenomenon was first identified. But I am pretty sure, when I was growing up in the 70’s and 80’s I don’t recall it ever being used, at least here in the New York City area. Now, what was the other thing I wanted to add? If I remember it, I will post it! 🙂

Addendum 2: Boy, is this post a work in progress, or what? I just remembered a few minutes after I finished the last addition what I wanted to say! I think I have pretty good evidence of the fact that at least in the northern section of Forest Hills, near Grand Central Parkway, it was indeed a tornado. One of the photos I took was of part of a tree blown SOUTHward by the storm, evidence of a twirling motion found in a tornado. Unlike a Macroburst, which if I understand correctly does not have rotation, the piece of this tree was torn from another one to its northeast on 72nd Road, and came to rest standing up near the corner of 72nd Road and 112th St.

Look closely and you will see that this tree is literally hanging; it is actually part of another tree nearby that blew off and got stuck here.

Some Details of Last Night’s Meeting

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment
Time 100 2006 gala, Michael Bloomberg.

Image via Wikipedia

From Channel 2’s local website, some good coverage of last night’s town hall meeting about the storm. Are we starting to see a disturbing trend here? Will Bloomberg’s administration be remembered for a lax response to this disaster?

Judging by the lack of awareness of many New Yorkers to our localized disaster, I am not that surprised the response might be somewhat lacking.

Town Hall Meeting On Post-Tornado Clean-Up Tonight

September 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Re-posting this from Congressman Weiner’s website:

Come to a Town Hall Meeting On the Post-Tornado Clean-Up in Queens with New York City Office of Emergency Management

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 at 6:30pm
Forest Hills Jewish Center
106-06 Queens Boulevard
Forest Hills, New York
Enter on 69th Road

Sponsored By

Congressman Anthony Weiner
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall
State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky
Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz
Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi

__________________________________________________________

Dear Neighbor:

The tornado that swept through Queens the night of Thursday, September 16 wreaked havoc on our community. We’re all relieved few people got hurt, but the twister left a path of destruction in its wake.

Borough President Helen Marshall, State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi and I are inviting you to a town hall meeting with the New York City Office of Emergency Management. Top officials from OEM and other agencies will inform you about what actions are being taken to clean up our neighborhood.

The meeting will be held at the Forest Hills Jewish Center, located at 106-06 Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills, on Tuesday, September 21 at 6:30 PM. We at every level of government need to work together to make sure all your questions about the clean-up are answered. As always, feel free to call my community office at 520-9001 with any questions or concerns. We look forward to seeing you there.

Two Pictures From The Storm

September 21, 2010 1 comment

There are so many images from the tornado that will stay with me, but I wanted to just highlight two for now.

The first is that of the crumpled baby stroller that just lay there on the sidewalk at Queens Blvd. and 71st. Road, across from the Key Food. It seemed to be just abandoned there in a hurry right in front of what is some of the worst damage in the immediate vicinity – a huge mess of downed trees that still covers that corner.  This image immediately had me wondering  — what happened? Did the parent of this child quickly scoop him or her up and flee for shelter as they saw the storm approaching?

Another image I noticed that night and quickly snapped a photo of is Le Pitou Dog and Cats Salon on 71st Road off of Austin. I had in a previous post on this blog spotlighted this proprietor as a great example of an innovative retailer, the likes of which Forest Hills could use more of. I was pleasantly surprised to find in the hours after the tornado that Le Pitou’s charming outdoor display had been mostly spared by the storm, even while trees on that side street had been toppled right near by.

Forest Hills Gardens Damage

September 19, 2010 4 comments

I walked through parts of Forest Hills Gardens today, and some of the immediate area around it. The damage there is some of the worst I have seen in the Forest Hills area, as you can see from these photos.

The West Side Tennis Club was badly hit.

The Forest Hills Tennis Stadium seemed unscathed despite a lot of damage in the immediate area surrounding it.

One of the hardest hit streets is Harrow Street, near Forest Hills Gardens. It is impassable and residents say they were told it will remain so for weeks.

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