Tropical Storm Isaias wreaked havoc on more than 17,000 New York City trees Tuesday, many completely brought down by winds that clocked at more than 70 miles per hour.
The result of the storm created blocked streets, damaged power lines, and the death of one man in Queens after his vehicle was crushed by a tree trunk.
Con Ed, Parks workers, and tree contractors were hard at work this morning trying to clear streets of trees and remove branches from precarious power lines, some broken and others stretched to their limits.
Many of the trees that had fallen were decades old and many were never expected to have fallen. A 60-year-old man from Manhattan was the unwitting victim of one of those trees that crushed him in his van in Briarwood, Queens yesterday.
On Wednesday, crews were working to clear streets of trees to at least allow traffic to flow through and to make streets safe for residents and motorists. In Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights in particular, trees were hit hardest as nearly every street from one end of the neighborhood to the other suffered severe damage from high winds whipping off of New York Harbor.
Crews from Lewis Tree Service were working on a 100-foot tree that had toppled on live wires and a house. A worker on the scene said he hadn’t seen this amount of trees down since Hurricane Sandy when he said he worked in Long Island clearing trees double the size of the one on 81st Street in Bay Ridge.
“You have to be careful with the live wires, I’ve seen it many times when they get loose and start sparking,” said one tree service employee, as he pointed to several Con Ed poles that were cracked and leaning precariously. “We will cut as much as we can before Con Ed comes and gives us the green light on cutting off power. I think though this one caught everyone by surprise.”
A woman resident, who wouldn’t give her name, said she moved her car just in time. “It was really scary, but no damage to my home and my power is on. My neighbor, though, has no power.”
On 97th Street off Shore Road, Debra Brady said she was home when a huge 100-year-old tree collapsed onto her home. Firefighters were on scene Wednesday evaluating the danger to her home and to pedestrians. Surprisingly, the center of the tree was somewhat hollow and inside wood was “spongy.”
“It was scary, it was a loud big bang,” she said as she looked up where a branch pierced her front second-floor window. A sign on her first-floor advertising “For Sale,” was marked with “as is tree included.”
“The firemen yesterday told us not to go in the front room, luckily our bedroom is in back an yes, we have electric and water – but we also have a tree in our front bedroom – a piece coming in, but nobody using that right now, ” Brady said. “My car was here, but I don’t really care about that. There were branches all over the driveway, but especially scary seeing the tree trunk in the house.”
Her husband, Jeff Brady marveled at the damaged tree and wondered why the center was spongy.
“Main thing is she’s okay and everything can be fixed and we can live in it, and it’s secure,” Brady said.
On 86th Street, a city bus remained trapped on the street, down tree branches and power lines blocked its path on both sides. Passengers and drivers were able to get out yesterday after the massive crash of a tree on Narrows Avenue brought down the wires.
City officials say it will take several days to clear the streets and restore all power to communities.
Meanwhile, massive rubber dams erected in downtown Manhattan to prevent a storm surge turned out to be unnecessary as the surge arrived a low tide and never came up onto the streets.