Brooklyn Twister

29 Sep

It may not have been Katrina, but Brooklyn residents are deeming the twister their own form of natural disaster.

A short-lived but fierce flash storm that was comprised of two tornados hit Brooklyn and Queens on Thursday, September 16, at approximately 5:30 P.M. Winds up to 125 mph toppled trees, damaged buildings, destroyed cars and lead to the death of at least one person.

“It got completely dark. I couldn’t see anything; I had no clue what was going on,” said Sam Abrahams, Brooklyn resident.

The first tornado hit Brooklyn at 5:33 p.m. with winds up to 80 mph, and worked its way northeast from the Park Slope section of the borough. The second tornado hit Queens at 5:42 and traveled from Flushing to Bayside, with winds that exceeded 100 mph.

“The winds were unlike anything I had felt before,” said Dina Zempsky, Brooklyn resident. “I was thankful that I was wearing jeans and a heavy jacket, because I felt like the wind was about to blow me away,” she added.

The storm, which struck down during rush hour, caused various problems in the city’s transportation system. All Long Island Rail Road service out of Manhattan was suspended for several hours, and LIRR service between Brooklyn and Queens was also disturbed. The 7-line subway system was out of commission for several hours.

“I was stranded,” recalled Andrew Abrahams, Brooklyn resident. “I work in Manhattan, and the delays when I was trying to come home to Brooklyn were monstrous.”

LaGuardia and Newark airports experienced two-hour outbound delays on Saturday, and John F. Kennedy experienced three-hour delays.

Several roadways were closed due to traffic caused by debris. Aline Levakis, a 30-year-old woman from Mechanicsburg, Pa., was killed after a tree struck her car on the Grand Central Parkway near Jewel Avenue, police said.

“Although it is devastating, I was shocked that only one person died, considering that the entire city was affected by this incredible natural disaster,” Zempksy said.

37,000 people across the five boroughs lost powers, according to a Con Edison Report. The utility had restored power to the affected households by the following Monday, a report said.

The city received 60 reports of buildings with structural damage according to Robert Limandri, Department of Buildings Commissioner.

“I feel incredibly fortunate that my house is alright, and my family,” Abrahams said. “It really was a surreal experience, with papers and debris swirling around me and trees crashing to the ground and through windshields.”

Clean up crews have been patrolling the city since the days proceeding the storm, but uprooted trees and damaged sidewalks can still be found in several Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has come under some criticism regarding the pace of the city’s cleanup in the wake of the tornados.

“Unfortunately storms happen and we’re cleaning up as quickly as we can,” Bloomberg told the New York Daily News. “We want to make sure that we do it safely.”

Wordle: Brooklyn Twister

9/28 Update: In a News for the Blue Room Press Release, NYC Major Bloomberg presents an infrastructure plan to reduce sewer overflows and improve the city’s waterways.

I feel that this is in response to the flack that he was getting for not dealing with the tornado cleanup in a timely enough way.

10/13 Revision: Professor Johnson mentioned to me that a map might have worked better with the content of this article.  Below is a map from a blogspot blog “mcbrooklyn” which tracks the course of the tornado; the green tag marks where it began, the red tag labels where it died down.

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