Tornado Victims Seek Help

Forest Hills has lost its forest.

Tons of trees remain scattered around Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island five days after an unexpected tornado.

"We wanna know when the city's gonna show up in our area," said Robyn Ulzheimer of Kew Gardens.

She was one of dozens of Queens residents who got to ask questions at a town hall organized by Congressman Anthony Weiner.

"The proof is in the pudding," said Weiner, who praised the city's response and said his own house lost cable on Thursday and had it back up and running on Sunday. He said the response does not remind him of past calamities in Queens, when the city's response following snowstorms or blackouts was occasionally sluggish.

On Wednesday, a team from FEMA plans to tour the area.

If the tornado did more than $25 million worth of damage, some residents can get some money back-- even if they don't have insurance. But, OEM Commissioner Joe Bruno said, "It's not a slam dunk. There are lots of things FEMA accepts and do not."

But Nataly Rojas, a Queensboro College student from Flushing, said it's unacceptable to still see giant tree limbs on her family's house, five days after the tornado.

"It's frustrating," said Rojas. "Stressful. There's nothing to cook, so I gotta go out, and I gotta go to school and charge my phone."

The city Parks Department, which is responsible for tree removal, said its working as fast as it can.

Commissioner Adrian Benepe said: "Five days ago, New York was hit by one of the worst storms in modern history, which knocked over or damaged ten of thousands of trees on streets. Hundreds of streets were closed by fallen trees. Since that time, many City agencies have been working 12-hours shifts, aided by contractors and workers from three surrounding counties, to open up closed streets and to remove large trees that have fallen on houses. This natural disaster has left behind a huge amount of work to be done, including removing thousands of tons of tree trunks and debris that have been cut to open the streets. The full clean-up is expected to take weeks, as will the restoration of hundreds of sidewalks destroyed or damaged by falling trees. We will get to the priority work--opening streets for emergency access, getting trees off houses, and helping to restore power-- as fast as possible, and we hope residents will be patient as we address emergency priorities."

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