Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Superstorm Sandy leaves trail of disaster in Riverdale (UPDATE)

UPDATE: The severe gasoline shortage gripping the New York metro area is forcing locals to endure epic-long lines to secure fuel for their cars and generators.
Gas pumps at the Sunoco station, located on 5914 Riverdale Avenue, and the Prime station, at Broadway and Mosholu Avenue, were completely dry as of Friday lunchtime. 
However, the Gulf station on Riverdale Avenue, just north of West 263rd Street, was open and filling the near-empty tanks of hundreds of motorists.
Some drivers told us they had been waiting in line for over 40 minutes and that the queue even stretched for seven blocks--back to West 256th Street--at one point.

Northbound traffic on Riverdale Avenue was reduced to one lane on Friday afternoon as motorists queued for gas.
This line stretched from West 259th Street to the city line, with some drivers reporting waits of around 40 minutes.


More than 3,000 local homes were left without power after superstorm Sandy ripped through Riverdale and left a path of mass destruction.
These two trees, located at the corner of Fieldston Road and
Waldo Avenue, brought down power lines in the area  
The unprecedented storm swept through the region last night, bruising Riverdale with its relentless near-hurricane-force wind gusts and sporadic rain.
Dozens of trees were uprooted, widespread power outages were reported, Internet and cable service was disrupted and several homes in Fieldston were damaged.
As of noon Tuesday, Con Edison said 46,805 Bronx customers were without power, including 3,489 in Riverdale. Citywide, more than 613,237 were left in the dark, including much of lower Manhattan.
Locally, early indications suggest the leafy enclave of Fieldston bore the brunt of Sandy’s wrath. Half of its residents were left without power and its usually pristine streets were littered with leaves, branches and other debris while several roads were blocked by fallen trees.
On Waldo Avenue between West 246th and West 250th streets, two trees fell onto the attic of a two-story house, while four blocks away on Delafield Avenue, several trees toppled over and brought down utility wires.
Further south, Palisade Avenue was rendered impassable after a tree came crashing down in front of 2521 Palisade Avenue. Another tree on West 232nd Street between Independence and Palisade avenues was also upended from its roots, blocking both lanes of traffic.
This tree on West 232nd Street blocked two-way traffic
Despite the destruction, commanding officer of the 50th Precinct Kevin Burke said there have been no reports of local fatalities or injuries.
He said the five-oh operated at full capacity during the storm and that around 150 officers—each working 12-hour shifts—answered the deluge of 911 calls.
“Most of the emergencies were in regards to downed power lines and trees falling onto cars,” he said.
“I think most people heeded the warnings and understood that it was a once-in-a-lifetime storm.
“What we found out is that a large majority, if not everyone, stayed indoors, which prevented the loss of life.”
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said Riverdale fared remarkably well compared to the rest of the city, thanks in part to the neighborhood’s high elevation.
“I think that under the circumstances, we can consider ourselves fortunate—we’re not flooded, and our homes didn’t burn down,” he said, referring to the devastating blaze that destroyed more than 50 homes in Breezy Point, Queens.
However, Dinowitz said residents in Fieldston suffered a battering.
“In Fieldston, there wasn’t just a downed tree here or there. You really had to know where you were going because there was blocked street after blocked street,” he said.
In fact, Councilman G. Oliver Koppell likened the situation outside his Fieldston 
house to a war zone.
The elected official sought refuge in a Manhattan hotel on Monday night because his house is surrounded by a slew of old trees. “My yard looks like a battleground. It really is amazing,” he said on Tuesday.
This tree on West 250th Street in Fieldston came perilously
close to hitting the private house on the left
“A tremendous number of branches—probably around 50—came down around my house, and it confirms that I was wise not to sleep here. We were very worried because we have very large trees.”
Fieldston Property Owners Association president Stephen Boatti said at least half of Fieldston descended into darkness after strong winds toppled power lines. He estimated at least 12 trees were uprooted in the area.
“We had a tornado two years ago and another hurricane last year, but this is much worse as far as the number of trees and the damage,” he said.
Boatti said private crews were methodically traversing each block in Fieldston and clearing streets of debris.
As city agencies scramble to deal with the aftermath and begin the massive cleanup, local community organizations are also doing their part.
The Riverdale YM-YWHA opened its bathrooms and showers to those without power on Tuesday night, while the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale and Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale notified congregants of changes in prayer service schedules due to safety concerns.
Meanwhile, the Riverdale Review understands just two people checked into the city-run evacuation shelter at M.S./H.S. 141. However, sources claim both individuals were homeless and not residents in the area.

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