Reporting John Slattery
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – For the second straight day, Federal Emergency Management Agency inspectors were in New York City, evaluating storm damage to see if the city qualifies for disaster assistance.
In the meantime, city officials gathered in Flushing, Queens to give the latest on the massive cleanup, reports CBS 2’s John Slattery.
The New York City parks commissioner said fallen trees have been removed from all streets so that emergency vehicles could pass.
Commissioner Adrian Benepe said getting trees off of sidewalks is the next priority, but that it could take many weeks to complete the job and cautioned residents to be patient.
Several days after the storm hit, part of the Forest is out of Forest Hills. Trees are still being cleared, sidewalks are still upended, and a colossal job remains.
Some Forest Hills residents just couldn’t wait for the city to get around to moving the tree off of their homes.
“I went with my bicycle and rode up and got a contractor, and I said the magic word: ‘cash,’” Robert Berger told 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria.
Berger said it cost him a few thousand dollars to discard the tree that was on his roof.
Amid frustration voiced by Queens residents on Tuesday, CBS 2 asked the Mayor if he should go to Queens for a look-see. He said no, he was in Queens when the storm hit.”
“I have not considered going out again. I can’t add anything,” he said.
WCBS 880′s Rich Lamb reports Mayor Bloomberg appeared aggravated when asked why the cleanup is taking so long in parts of the city.
“Everyone’s working as fast as they can,” Bloomberg said. “This is going to take us a few weeks.”
Two of Bloomberg’s commissioners and other city officials were out in force, though, displaying a map showing where the more than 3,000 trees came down.
“If you look at that map, it almost looks like a shotgun blast,” Commissioner Benepe said.
FEMA officials continued their inspections to see if the city qualifies for federal disaster reimbursement.
“Even if we qualify, it could take weeks before President Obama signs the disaster declaration,” Joseph Bruno, commissioner of the New York City Office of Emergency Management, said.
Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi says the damage is clearly severe enough to warrant federal aid.
“We believe that this event qualifies,” Hevesi said.
The Parks Department said that, in a whole year, they typically clear 6,000 tons of tree debris. In the last week alone, they cleared one-quarter of that.
Since Thursday night, the city has received more than 7,800 calls to 311 to report tree damage – it’s the most calls ever to report such damage.