September 18th, 2010
As some of you are aware, a couple of Tornados ripped through parts of New York City on Thursday evening. Specifically, the storm hit the tip of Staten Island, then scythed through Brooklyn and Queens, shearing trees like they were toothpicks.
What you may not know is that my neighborhood, Park Slope, Brooklyn, was one of the hardest hit. I was out doing some errands…picking up laundry, grocery shopping… progressing from one store to another further away when the storm approached. It was really eerie - like a movie scene when some evil force is coming. The sky was constantly electric - not just a bolt of lightning followed by thunder, but constant smaller bolts, one after another, high in the sky. I started jogging with my bags of laundry and groceries (even though it is seriously not cool to run to get out of rain. I didn’t care). As I got close to the corner where the grocery store is located, I noticed the sky had turned a weird green color. I’d read about how tornado clouds can look that way so I picked up my pace. Just across from the store the storm hit and I was drenched in seconds. I raced the final 20 feet into the store and turned to look back and it had turned black out there. The wind and rain were unlike any I’d ever seen. Within moments trees were down, blocking the streets, store signs and garbage cans were blown away. A store across the street from the grocery had it’s plate glass windows blown in.
A minute later it was virtually over. It was still raining a little, but almost nothing. It was amazing to me how quickly people started moving tree branches and even whole trees, if possible, out of the streets. I helped replace garbage cans and bags as I made my way home.
Thank heaven for cell phones. I called my wife, Jean, to let her know I was OK and make sure she was. She, as everyone did, had her own story to tell of what happened back at the apartment, but the big news was our beloved old Summac tree in the back yard was gone.
And this is, sadly, a common sight through out Brooklyn and Queens. In this case a rare American Elm in Prospect Park. Probably 80-100 years old.
Still, over all, amazing that two, count ‘em, two tornados can touch down in a major metropolitan city at rush hour and “only” one person was killed. Clearly that is a tragedy, but it could so easily been a whole lot worse.
So - OK. I’ve seen my tornado up close and personal. I don’t need to see anymore. Thank you very much.