Breezy Point Twister Terror
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.
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.
“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 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.