‘Prelude of climate change’: Thunderstorm batters Bensonhurst with high winds, rain

tree in front of bensonhurst house after storm
Punishing winds lashed Bensonhurst on Tuesday evening, sending trees crashing to the ground and damaging homes and property.
Photo by Erica Price

A severe thunderstorm hit southern Brooklyn on Tuesday afternoon, downing trees and damaging property as winds of up to 70 mph swept through the area. 

According to Zachary Iscol, commissioner of New York City Emergency Management, the storm hit Bensonhurst at around 3:30 p.m. on July 25 and caused significant damage, with no reports of any serious injuries. 

City officials confirmed that a microburst — or a column of rapidly sinking air seen within a thunderstorm — hit the neighborhood, downing several trees. Cleanup and recovery efforts began on Wednesday. 

bensonhurst storm damage
A “microburst” sent 70mph winds through the nabe. Photo by Erica Price

These extreme weather events are expected to increase in frequency as climate change worsens, Iscol said.

“This is sort of the new normal that we are facing now in New York City,” he said during a press conference on Tuesday. “We talk about climate change all the time, you can see that we are seeing it. You see it in the flooding that just occurred up in Vermont and in upstate New York, you see it in the high heat that we’re getting in the southwest, you saw it with the air pollution we got in the city because of wildfires, you see it in some of the flash flooding events and you see it in events like this.”

Officials also urged New Yorkers to take important steps in emergency preparedness by registering for NotifyNYC, the city’s official source for information concerning emergency alerts.  

One tree was knocked down in front of one Bensonhurst home, with both the NYPD and FDNY responding to ensure no one inside the house was trapped or injured. Officials also checked to make sure no one was trapped outside in their vehicles. 

post storm cleanup in bensonhurst
The city roped off streets as crews cleaned up storm debris on July 26.Photo by Erica Price

“This evening we responded to what you see here; trees down from high winds,” said FDNY First Deputy Commissioner Joseph Pfeifer. “And the fire department responded to make sure that people had access to their homes. We had, during this incident, one minor injury so we were very fortunate this evening to only have one minor injury. But what you saw tonight as Commissioner [Iscol] mentioned is a prelude of climate change and the events we have to deal with.”

Pfeifer emphasized that as New Yorkers experience more effects of climate change, city agencies will continue to prepare for more frequent and worsening weather events as well as continue to respond quickly in order to save lives. 

“What you also saw tonight was a response of multiple agencies and that’s one thing the city should be proud of,” said Pfeifer. “That we come together during emergencies like this and we make sure that people are safe.”