Hundreds of century-old trees were uprooted throughout Central Park on Wednesday after a severe thunderstorm with winds as high as 80 mph barrelled through the city overnight.
20 Aug 2009
On Wednesday, one tree lay across the tennis courts, and a few lampposts stood at a slant after trees crashed into them Photo: BLOOMBERG
"I've never seen a wind of that velocity in New York City," said Adrian Benep, the Parks Commissioner. "It looks like pictures that I've seen of war zones where artillery shells have shredded trees."
On Wednesday, one tree lay across the tennis courts, and a few lampposts stood at a slant after trees crashed into them. Several parked cars were also destroyed when branches hurtled through the air and landed on them.
Steve Sherman, a 50-year-old photographer, cycled through Central Park on Wednesday morning and counted dozens of fallen trees around him. He compared the devastation to the aftermath of a tornado.
"Central Park is our oasis. It's our only saving grace living in an urban centre like New York," Mr Sherman said. "To see Mother Nature up front and realise her power, it's phenomenal. You just don't expect it in an urban setting."
Parks employees were cleaning up streets and travel lanes on Wednesday and identifying any hazardous areas of trees with hanging limbs that could still come down. The Central Park Conservancy also brought in emergency contractors.
Mr Benepe urged the public to stay away from any trees in the park marked hazardous. He said some of the heavier-hit sections, like the North Meadow and the area around the tennis courts, might have to be cordoned off.
"The landscape has changed forever," he said.
The American elm can grow up to 125 feet tall, with a spread spanning 65 feet at the top. Mr Benepe said he wasn't sure if new saplings would ever be able to reach the size and maturity of the trees that were lost.
"My grandchildren might be able to enjoy those trees in time," Mr Sherman said. "But they won't be able to see the tree I just looked at yesterday. We've lost friends here."
The storm swept in after two sweltering days of temperatures above 90 degrees. According to the National Weather Service, there is a chance of showers and thunderstorms Wednesday evening.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/6058412/Central-Park-transformed-as-storm-uproots-hundreds-of-trees-in-New-York.html