Superstorm Sandy wrecked over 500,000 homes and businesses, toppled telephone poles, leaving millions without power, and took the lives of 60 people in New York alone. Sandy forever altered the natural landscape as well. Thousands upon thousands of trees were uprooted, some of them over 100 years old. New York parks and gardens are trying to recover from flooding, destroyed infrastructure and ancient trees cut down by the winds. Clean up will take months in some places.
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Parks across New York, from Long Island to Manhattan, shared their photos and damage reports with MetroFocus.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Dozens of trees throughout the Brooklyn Botanic Garden were damaged by the storm, including a line of 80-year-old little-leaf lindens and several large Pin oaks, according to a media alert from the garden.
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Central Park, New York, N.Y.
More than 900 trees were irreparably damaged or destroyed in the storm, as well as benches and other infrastructure, according to the Central Park Conservancy. One of the trees that fell, a Pin oak, was over 160-years old. A white swamp oak tree that fell was determined to have been 120 years old and weighed more than 50,000 pounds. For the next couple of months, the park is clearing the trees, putting them into mulch grinders and re-using the mulch in Central Park, as well as making it available to other parks.
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Longs Island State Parks, throughout Long Island, N.Y.
The Long Island State park system saw extensive damage to thousands of trees. Some parks, such as Brookhaven State Park and Wildwood State Park, are still closed, according to Deputy Region Director of Long Island State Parks George Gorman. Over 500 trees were damaged or uprooted in Sunken Meadow State Park and the golf course. Other parks that lost over 100 trees include Caumsett State Historic Park, Hempstead Lake State Park, Heckscher State Park and Caleb Smith State Park.
The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, N.Y.
Sandy damaged or destroyed 557 of 30,000 trees on the 250 acres of New York Botanical Garden. In the Thain Family Forest, the largest remaining old-growth forest in New York City, 107 trees were destroyed, and 271 trees outside the forest were damaged by the storm. According to Todd Forrest, Arthur Ross Vice President for Horticulture and Living Collections, this was the most destructive storm in the garden’s history and the clean-up is expected to take months. Irreplaceable trees were damaged as well as fences, signs, small structures and one building. The trees that were lost include hundreds of mature pines, spruces, and firs, plus, some of the garden’s ancient oak trees.
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Riverside Park, New York, N.Y.
Riverside Park lost approximately 40 mature trees during Hurricane Sandy and hundreds more were damaged. Since 2008, the 330-acre park has lost over 600 trees due to violent storms, according to John Herrold, the administrator of Riverside Park and president of the Riverside Park Conservancy. Falling trees crushed steel fences in multiple locations, low-lying riverfront areas along the length of the park were underwater and the park’s electrical systems suffered extensive damage. Many of the fallen trees have been removed and turned into wood chips that will be used for landscaping throughout the park. About a month after the storm, contractors are still assessing the damage. The park is far from being able to tally the full financial cost, but it will be substantial.
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Old Westbury Gardens, Long Island, N.Y.
Old Westbury Gardens on Long Island lost over 100 trees on its 200 acres due to the combination of Hurricane Sandy and the northeaster that followed. What was more devastating than the hurricane wrecking the grounds was the six inches of heavy snow that came a week later, taking down those trees that hadn’t fallen, but were already weak. It will take all winter longer to clean up the grounds, according to the gardens’ director of public relations, Vince Kish. The park is safe and so is the historical mansion, but it will take a long time to recover.
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