August 28, 2011
By Ted Regencia
NEW YORK — Hurricane Irene packed a much weaker punch when it hit New York early Sunday morning of August 28, prompting Mayor Mike Bloomberg to declare that the city “certainly dodged a bullet.” But it still left some scattered scenes of destruction in the Bronx, uprooting trees and destroying properties around the Parkchester district.
Along Metropolitan Avenue, a downed tree fell on top of a Toyota RAV4 smashing its windows and crushing the roof. A Mercedes Benz SUV parked right in front of the Toyota was also damaged.
At the Parkchester Apartment Complex, a partially-uprooted tree was seen leaning against one the buildings, while another was completely toppled by strong winds blocking the courtyard path.
Despite the residual rain and strong winds, Sunday masses went on at the Church of St. Raymond along Castle Hill Avenue. The church is celebrating its feast day today, but Monsignor John Graham was forced to cancel the annual lunch reception and cultural presentation due to the storm.
“We don’t want to put anybody at risk,” Graham told this reporter. Although New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan did not issue an official church dispensation for parishioners who miss Sunday obligation, Graham said churchgoers were advised to use “common sense” in making a decision to attend mass.
At the 12 p.m. mass, an estimated 100 people attended the service officiated by Graham. ”I think I won,” the parish pastor quipped noting the large church attendance. Only five people showed up at the 8 a.m. mass, while 10 and 15 people attended the 9 a.m. Spanish and 10:30 am family masses, according to Graham.
Juan Ramos, 65, of Parkchester has been a parishioner at St. Raymond for 30 years. ”I feel my obligation to come to mass,” Ramos said. Besides the storm “wasn’t that bad,” he added.
Iris Soochang, who lives near the 166-year old church, said she was not afraid to attend mass, because “God is beside me.”