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For the patrons of the Breezy Point Surf Club, Saturday’s tornado was the best possible time for a twister to touch down in the western most tip of the Rockaway peninsula.
“If it would have been last weekend, Labor Day Weekend, there would have been thousands of people down here and somebody would have definitely got hurt,” said Steve Fallon, who rents one of about 16 cabanas at the Surf Club that were damaged. Cabana owners and workers said no one had been injured at club, located at 1 Beach 227th St. In total, the seaside beach club has about 600 cabanas, employees said.
The National Weather Service had issued a tornado warning for Queens at about 10:30 a.m.
At the US Open, the stadium was evacuated, USTA officials said.
At about 11 a.m., rain was coming down in Breezy Point and only a handful of people were there.
James Brady, who has spent the summer at the club for all 47 years of his life, happened to be in the shower, disconnecting pipes for the winter season.
“All of a sudden you just heard the noise,” said Brady. “I heard the electrical pole, that is right behind us here, snap and fall down. I heard the cracking of the electricity. The wind, it was in a wind tunnel with things crashing all around. I just put my head down and rode it out.”
The tornado lasted about 15 to 20 seconds, Brady said. When it was finished, he went outside and surveyed the damage.
Several roofs from cabanas were missing, dozens of barbeques were toppled and a part of a wall surrounding the pool had caved in.
In a stretch of sand between the cabanas and a baseball field, debris, including barbeques, chairs and picnic tables, lay in a pile.
Janet Ryan, Brady’s sister, picked through the items, righting a small wagon and returning it to her cabana.
“I think I am most upset because my brother almost got hurt,” she said.
Reach photo editor Christina Santucci by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4589.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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