Brooklyn, NY – In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Flatbush Shomrim volunteers took to the streets with chainsaws to begin cutting up and removing fallen trees that were blocking roadways and preventing emergency and supply vehicles from accessing streets in Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Marine Park, and Brighton Beach. Grateful residents cheered their efforts and the removal of some 75 trees. Yet, the New York City Parks Department did not appreciate Shomrim’s intervention and ordered the volunteer group to stop working.
“We had a little problem with the Parks Department,” Flatbush Shomrim Founder Chaim Deutsch told the Brooklyn Daily (http://bit.ly/XZbSmz). Deutsch said a Parks official told him to stay away from the fallen trees. “He said we’re not supposed to be doing that, but I said in a crisis, I’ll do whatever I have to. We already did a large part of the Parks Department’s job by cutting down 75 trees.”
According to the Parks Department, if fallen trees do not constitute an emergency, the City has up to two weeks to remove them. If the fallen trees do create a hazardous situation, only agency foresters and contractors with the necessary permits are allowed to cut down City trees. Even if a tree falls on private property, a homeowner still needs to ensure his contractor obtains permission from the Parks Department before doing away with the tree.
“Non-certified foresters who do not have permission from Parks should not go out with chainsaws and remove trees. It’s dangerous,” an agency spokeswoman said.
One Sheepshead Bay resident had nothing but praise for Deutsch and his chainsaw crew. “The Parks Department does not do a good job with trees,” Allen Popper said. “They do a terrible job. Chaim Deutsch and the Flatbush Shomrim were doing everything Bloomberg’s people should have done.”
While Deutsch has since retired his chainsaw, he says he stands at the ready should another disaster hit the area. “You cannot rely on the city, because the city doesn’t always have the resources,” he explained. “We prepare ourselves, on our own, to help as much as possible.”