All clear after Hanna soaks New York

September 7, 2008 5:18:43 AM PDT
Tropical Storm Hanna dropped a month's worth of rain within hours Saturday, flooding highways, delaying flights and halting the U.S. Open Tennis tournament. But officials reported no major damage. The storm dropped three or more inches of rain on parts of the city and more in some northern suburbs, the National Weather Service said. Nearly six inches was measured in Rockland County.

The metropolitan area normally gets three to four inches of rain in the entire month of September.

Utilities told Eyewitness News that fewer than 10,000 homes and businesses were without power across the city, Long Island and Westchester County.

Stretches of several highways in the city, Long Island and Westchester County were closed because of flooding. Downed trees caused some problems in Brooklyn and the Bronx. All lanes were blocked on the westbound Belt Parkway near Knapp Street by a toppled tree. Another tree was reported down on Riverdale Avenue at West 256th Street in the Bronx.

Part of a building at 4417 Third Avenue in the Bronx collapsed during the storm. While no one was injured, the fire department determined that the remaining portion of the structure is too unstable and must be demolished. Investigators were not immediately sure if the storm caused the collapse.

Two families, including nine adults and eight children, were evacuated from apartments in the building as a precaution. A store front church, La Iglesia Evangelica Los Redimidos Por Cristo, was also located inside the building. A commercial building next door at 4415 was also ordered to vacate. Inspectors will return to the scene on Monday.

Three apartment buildings in the Woodside section of Queens also grappled with some flooding, but residents didn't have to evacuate, city Office of Emergency Management spokesman Chris Gilbride said.

"Overall, we're doing all right," he said.

The storm forced the U.S. women's final off its usual Saturday date for the first time in 34 years and postponed one men's semifinal at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens. Hanna also washed out the Philadelphia Phillies-New York Mets game at Shea Stadium.

Flight delays were as long as four hours at the region's major airports.

Amtrak reported no train service on the Northeast corridor in both directions from New York to Boston due to downed wires. Service was restored by morning.

City and suburban officials took pains to prepare for the storm. They cleared catch basins and street drains, and some areas prepared shelters in case they were needed.

Nassau County, on Long Island, had 20 shelters stocked with food and water and ready to hold as many as 34,000 people, emergency management commissioner Jim Callahan said. Adjacent Suffolk County also prepared shelters and closed all parks and campgrounds at 4 p.m., County Executive Steve Levy said.

The Red Cross opened two shelters on Long Island and said it had 1,500 volunteers ready to help.

The storm was expected to clear the area overnight.

"Most people will wake up tomorrow morning and like what they see," Koch said.

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