NEW YORK (CBS 2 / WCBS 880) — There’s a glimmer of hope for storm victims in Queens.
Two tornadoes hit the city last Thursday night and with each passing day, and the longer the trees lie on the ground, residents are growing more and more frustrated.
On Wednesday, six days into the mess, came a visit from the federal government, reports CBS 2’s John Slattery.
If you want money from the feds, you have to apply – they essentially say, “show us the damage.”
Federal Emergency Management Agency officials hit the Big Apple on Wednesday to see whether the damage meets the threshold of $25 million. The city spends the fix the damage, then hopes some of the costs can be defrayed.
Six FEMA teams were touring sites on Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens, in areas like Queens College, which suffered not only tree damage but also a fabric roof to the tennis center that was ripped to shreds.
“They’re still totaling it up right now, but it’s probably around $1 million,” CUNY spokesman John Haynes said.
FEMA said it will take some time to come up with a number.
In Middle Village, Queens, the damage was so significant that resident Lorraine Sciulli called it “biblical.”
Sciulli and other members of the Juniper Park Civic Association point out uprooted trees and uplifted sidewalks as evidence of the substantial storm damage.
“It’s certainly a disaster area,” Middle Village resident Bob Holden said. “That goes without saying.”
FEMA said it showed up only now because this was the time chosen by state emergency officials. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he understands the public’s frustration.
“So far, we’ve devoted over 30,000 man-hours to the cleanup effort,” Bloomberg. “That’s the equivalent of nearly three and a half years of work. We will continue to do it, and do it safely.”
The sheer volume of downed trees can be seen at Cunningham Park, a collection point for debris where it’s then chipped into mulch – truck after truck of it.
Many New Yorkers wonder how the city could possibly not get federal money, since the mayor has repeatedly said it’s the worst disaster since Hurricane Gloria in 1985.
The storm included two tornadoes, with winds up to 125 miles per hour. It whipped a path 14 miles across the city, downing some 3,000 trees.