Nor'easter Left Downed Trees and Power Lines Throughout Queens

By Mary Johnson and Nigel Chiwaya  on November 8, 2012 6:49pm

QUEENS — Downed power lines plunged much of Queens into darkness Wednesday night as a nor’easter pummeled the borough already battered by Hurricane Sandy.

Elected officials said their offices have been inundated with calls since the storm hit, with residents complaining of toppled trees that had taken out wires.

“The trees are putting strain on the wires and they're breaking,” said City Councilman Leroy Comrie, who represents southeast Queens.

"I had a wire that blocked my driveway this morning," Comrie added.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a briefing Thursday that the nor’easter and Hurricane Sandy have left some 23,000 customers in the borough without power, although it was not clear how many outages could be blamed on each storm.

Con Edison did not immediately return a call requesting comment, and neither did the Long Island Power Authority, which provides electricity to the Rockaways.

But Cuomo expressed outrage at the utilities in their handling of what has become, for some, a 10-day power outage.

“I believe [the utility companies] were unprepared. I believe the system is archaic and is obsolete in many ways,” Cuomo said. “I think this is a system where we’re going to have to look at a ground-up redesign.”

Although many still lack power in Queens, some have gotten it back, but downed trees are still posing a threat, residents said.

On one block in Jamaica, a large tree that fell during Hurricane Sandy continues to lean on power lines.

Alfred Hilton, who has lived on 111th Avenue near 169th Street for 15 years, said the downed tree caused spotty problems with electricity on the block immediately after it fell from the side of the street.

Hilton said Con Ed has since fully restored power to the block — but the tree has been left where it fell.

"It's cruel how the city treats us,” Hilton said. “You're going to fix power. Why not move the tree? That's going to be a danger."

"This is my concern — look at those trees,” Hilton added. “It's a major problem. The trees are too top-heavy."

A spokesperson for Con Edison said that if crews have repaired power at that site, then they must have determined that it was safe to restore that area based on the conditions.

A spokeswoman for the Parks Department said removal of street trees is the agency's responsibility and that it has received more than 23,000 tree service requests since Sandy hit.

Of those, about 7,500 "emergency tree conditions" had been addressed as of Thursday, with first priority given to trees blocking streets, the spokeswoman added.

After that, the Parks Department said it moved on to begin taking trees off of houses, power lines and cars.

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