2012-09-14 / Front Page

Breezy Point Twister Terror

By Howard Schwach


Photo, taken by Rockaway resident Joe Mure, shows the funnel cloud coming off the ocean right at Breezy Point. Photo, taken by Rockaway resident Joe Mure, shows the funnel cloud coming off the ocean right at Breezy Point. The swirling 70 mile-per-hour winds and rain from a Category 0 tornado came unexpectedly out of the Atlantic Ocean and cut a swath from the Surf Club on the far west end of the community to homes along State Road on Saturday.

Locals who were cleaning out their cabanas at the Surf Club ran for cover as the roof on a group of cabanas was ripped from the buildings. Barbeque units were thrown more than 100 yards, tables and yard toys wound up in trees hundreds of yards away.

“It picked up the picnic tables and even the heavy dumpsters,” said club manager Thomas Sullivan, who added that the club would take care of the damages and would not pass the cost on to those who use it each summer.

While nobody was hurt in the quick-moving twister, there was $200,000-worth of damage at the Surf Club and more at the several homes that were damaged, but not destroyed. Then, there was the fear factor. Breezy Point resident Patsy O’Hara and her family had come to their cabana to pack up after a successful summer.


Damage was extensive to the Surf Club cabanas near the facility’s swimming pool. Damage was extensive to the Surf Club cabanas near the facility’s swimming pool. When the wind picked up and somebody yelled that it was a tornado, O’Hara went deep into the cabana, into its back kitchen, to seek safety.

She felt safe, until the entire roof lifted off over her head.

On Saturday afternoon, she spoke with reporters in the kitchen, pointing out the open-air view and the fact that all of the kitchen’s pots and pans were still in place.

Breezy Point homeowner Ed McCarthy was one of a few unlucky homeowners who felt the wrath of the storm.

McCarthy’s roof suffered “extensive” damage as did the siding on the front of his home, right off State Road. His backyard was a tangled mess, although the backyard next door was pristine.


A Point Breeze volunteer firefighter removes damaged window from a home hit by the twister. A Point Breeze volunteer firefighter removes damaged window from a home hit by the twister. A tree from his neighbor’s property threatened to fall on his home, and, in the afternoon, City Councilman Eric Ulrich, on a tour of the damage, tried to get him help in having it removed.

“It hit so fast that there was not much you could do,” McCarthy said, surveying the damage. “You just don’t expect things like that here in Breezy Point.”

In fact, Saturday’s twister and the stronger one that hit Brooklyn after leaving Rockaway were the ninth and tenth to hit New York City since 2007, weather officials say. More than 60 have hit the city in the last 50 years. Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, who arrived in Breezy Point on Saturday afternoon to assess the damage, said there had been no reports of injuries.


The tornado brought Breezy Point residents out into the streets to discuss the damage and how they weathered the storm. The tornado brought Breezy Point residents out into the streets to discuss the damage and how they weathered the storm. Also at the press conference were Office of Emergency Management director Joe Bruno and Councilman Ulrich.

The Queens tornado hit land with winds of about 70 miles an hour, Ross Dickman, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said at a news conference at the Breezy Point Surf Club on Saturday. It was a weak tornado, Dickman said, measuring a zero out of five on the enhanced Fujita scale, which is used to gauge tornado strength.

It was 50 feet across and touched ground for only 600 feet, Dickman said.



OEM chief Joe Bruno (right) and City Councilman Eric Ulrich took part in the afternoon press briefing at the scene. OEM chief Joe Bruno (right) and City Councilman Eric Ulrich took part in the afternoon press briefing at the scene.

Summer cabana tenants survey the damage done by the twister. Some were there to close the cabanas for the winter. Summer cabana tenants survey the damage done by the twister. Some were there to close the cabanas for the winter.

Porch toys and barbeques were blown 100 yards away from the cabanas by the storm. Porch toys and barbeques were blown 100 yards away from the cabanas by the storm.

Deputy Inspector Scott Olexa, the commanding officer of the 100 Precinct, was on scene to work with emergency management officials and Breezy Point security. Deputy Inspector Scott Olexa, the commanding officer of the 100 Precinct, was on scene to work with emergency management officials and Breezy Point security.

Top: Patsy O’Hara looks at where her cabana ceiling once stood. Top: Patsy O’Hara looks at where her cabana ceiling once stood.

Left: Breezy Point homeowner Ed McCarthy speaks with Councilman Eric Ulrich and a staffer in front of his damaged home. Left: Breezy Point homeowner Ed McCarthy speaks with Councilman Eric Ulrich and a staffer in front of his damaged home.

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