Pols call on Feds to declare Queens a disaster area
by Holly Tsang
Sep 18, 2010 | 3090 views | 0 0 comments | 62 62 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Elected officials gathered in MacDonald Park in Forest Hills to urge the federal government to declare Thursday evening's tornado a national disaster.
Elected officials gathered in MacDonald Park in Forest Hills to urge the federal government to declare Thursday evening's tornado a national disaster.
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In the wake of a violent tornado that tore through New York City Thursday evening, leaving thousands of New Yorkers with severe property damage and without electricity, elected officials gathered in ravaged MacDonald Park in Forest Hills Friday afternoon to request aid from the federal government.

“Storms are an act of God, and there is so much devastation,” said Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, who represents Forest Hills. “We are asking the president to help and claim this as a disaster area.”

According to northeast Queens Councilman Dan Halloran, such a designation requires at least $7 million in aggregate damage. He asked New Yorkers to take pictures and call 311 and the district offices of their elected officials to have the damage documented.

Carole Samuels, a Forest Hills resident, was concerned about the difficulties the storm could present to the area’s large senior population if the cleanup is not swift.

“All the trees are down and a lot of seniors can’t walk because it’s dangerous,” said Samuels. “We need help.”

Councilman Peter Koo of Flushing, which also experienced a lot of damage from the tornado, expressed his sympathy over the death of a Pennsylvania woman who was killed when a tree fell onto her car on the Grand Central Parkway.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to the Leuakis family,” said Koo. “We must band together for the safety of our residents and the restoration of services.”

Congressman Anthony Weiner wasn’t waiting for the National Weather Service to officially declare the destructive storm a tornado.

“Anything that rips the top off trees; that rips tree roots from the ground; that knocks out people’s power and cable,” he said, “I believe is a tornado.”

Weiner also expressed regret that the storm resulted in a casualty, but pointed out that the death toll could have been even higher.

“MacDonald Park is packed with people on a nice day like yesterday; Juniper Valley Park has hundreds of kids running around,” he said. “We were lucky to escape with our lives yesterday.”

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