Power Problems Plague Peninsula
Like some sort of Biblical plague, a series of power problems hit the Rockaway peninsula last week, causing hardships for many residents and, in one case, spurring preparations for the evacuation of Peninsula Hospital Center, Middle School 198 and Public School 105.
On Friday, October 24 at approximately 5:15 p.m., a large water main at Beach 71 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard sprung a leak, sending hundreds of gallons of water spurting through the concrete, placing both sides of the boulevard under several inches of water.
While there was talk of evacuating at least one building in the Hammel Housing complex, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection quickly came and shut the main down before much damage could be done.
Several blocks of Rockaway Beach Boulevard, however, were blocked off by the flooding and by fear that the street would collapse.
Early on Monday morning, October 27, police received a call at about 9:40 a.m. of a loud noise on Beach 54 Street, right next to Peninsula Hospital Center.
Responding officers found that a construction crew working for the city on a sewer project on the corner of Beach 54 and Beach Channel Drive had ruptured a high-pressure 8-inch gas main with its heavy equipment.
Fears of an explosion prompted officers to call for a Level One Mobilization and to prepare to evacuate a portion of the Ocean-Bay Houses as well as two schools only blocks away – PS 105 on Beach 50 Street and Middle School 198 on Beach 59 Street. According to Diana Parisi, a spokesperson for KeySpan Energy, about 200 people were evacuated from the Ocean Bay Houses as a precaution.
In addition, the hospital was told to make preparations for evacuation as well.
Both Beach Channel Drive and Rockaway Beach Boulevard were closed for several blocks while preparations for the evacuations were being made. Police and fire units came from other parts of Queens and Brooklyn to assist.
Crews from KeySpan Energy responded quickly, however, turning off the gas to the main.
"There was never any danger of the gas exploding," Parisi said. "Whatever was done was a precaution."
Within an hour from the first call, which came just after 9:53 a.m., the area was declared safe by the NYPD’s Queens South Duty Captain and officials from the fire department.
To add to the peninsula’s problems, a faulty fuse caused a brownout at the Ocean Village complex on Beach 67 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard and to the eastern portions of the Dayton Towers complex on from Beach 73 Street to Beach 80 Street on Tuesday morning.
Marco Cucci, a spokesperson for the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) said that the brownout, which he termed as "scattered," lasted from one-half hour to forty-five minutes in most areas.