Tag Archives: Flooding

NYCHA South Jamaica Houses experience extensive flooding


| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Councilman Ruben Will's office

Residents are facing flooding yet again at NYCHA South Jamaica Houses after wastewater inundated parts of the building.

Ebony Holmes, a resident at 190-10 160th St., lives on the second floor where the majority of the flooding is located. Holmes said the problem started at 6 p.m. Sunday and occurred last year. In both cases, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) employees mopped her floor and snaked her drain but the problem kept coming back. This year, the flood in her apartment is seeping down into the community center, which houses the Southern Queens Park Association (SQPA) after-school programs for children.

“It’s extreme. It’s all the way out of the apartment, in the hallway,” Holmes said. “The furniture is wet, the rug is wet, everything is done.”

Holmes had to leave her apartment Sunday night because it was not suitable for sleeping. She expressed her frustration with NYCHA officials and is requesting that they give her a new apartment.

Last year, the cleanup job left mold and mildew in her home and Holmes said cigarettes and feces are spilling into her bathroom, tub and living room. She purchased new furniture for her living room after last year’s flooding and was not reimbursed.

“The cleaning they’re doing is not cleaning,” Holmes said. “I’m not waiting for this to happen again.”

South Jamaica Houses on 160th St. started experiencing extensive flooding last night.

Councilman Ruben Wills toured the area to witness the extent of the damage firsthand and was told by NYCHA that the agency is willing to relocate Holmes until her apartment is cleaned.

“It was wholly unacceptable for the tenants and families of the NYCHA South Jamaica Houses to have endured putrid wastewater flowing through their building for more than 12 hours, and not receive a timely and robust response by its maintenance staff,” Wills said in a statement. “Had the constituent who came to my office this morning not taken the initiative to bring this issue to my attention, this problem may well have continued to go unnoticed.”

He also blasted the property’s superintendent James Sanders for his lack of response and said that the tenants “deserve better.”

NYCHA did not immediately respond to The Courier’s request for comment.

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Improvements aim to end flood woes on Utopia Parkway


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Office of Rory Lancman

BY ANGELA MATUA

The intersection of Utopia Parkway and 65th Avenue in Fresh Meadows should no longer be plagued by flooding every time it rains.

Councilman Rory Lancman and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced Friday that several measures have been installed to mitigate flooding that has inundated residents for years.

The area has experienced severe floods since 1975 and residents have had to pump out their basements and repair flooded cars, spending thousands of dollars in the process.

The manhole cover in the area, which would have several feet of water shooting out of it when it rained, has been sealed and duckbill check valves have been installed in the catch basins. Duckbill check valves, which get their names from the shape they resemble, prevent back flow in the sewers.

“After years of dangerous road conditions and flooded basements, the Fresh Meadows community will now get some relief,” Lancman said. “These improvements will help limit future flooding on Utopia Parkway, where a veritable lake is formed during heavy storms and basements are inundated with dirty rainwater.”

Eric Landau, associate commissioner of public affairs for the DEP, said the rainfall early this week proved that these measures work.

“These improvements represent a great collaboration between DEP engineers and members of the community,” Landau said. “And this week’s heavy rains demonstrated that the infrastructure upgrades DEP recently completed worked and helped prevent flooding.”

According to Nadia Chait, communications director for Lancman’s office, the city has acknowledged that the infrastructure is overloaded and is working on a $6 billion multi-year effort to mitigate flooding in all of southeast Queens.

“That’s obviously a very large project, which is why we’re excited about what we’ve done today and [this project is] something that’s going to have an immediate impact for these homeowners,” she said.

DEP officials indicated this project will reduce flooding in the area by 65 percent.

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Lindenwood street still sinking after fixed by DEP


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

Despite recent attempts by the Department of Environmental Protection to fix a sinking section of a Lindenwood street, the pavement at the corner of 79th Street and 157th Avenue has again sunk by as much as a foot.

The corner is totally unusable to cars, and residents worry about pedestrians walking there and vehicles possibly getting stuck in the dip.

“The hole has gotten worse than ever since they came in to fix it,” said Joe Thompson, a Lindenwood resident and president of the Howard Beach Civilian Observation Patrol. “We visited the hole this week and saw a large puddle completely frozen over. What if someone slips into that because the water can’t drain correctly, or what if a car makes too fast of a turn around the corner not realizing the hole [is there]? It’s dangerous.”

The DEP came in October to work on the street after The Courier first reported on the situation. They did extensive work on the infrastructure of the pipes below ground. This included fixing the connection of the catch basin and sewer at the location. They also inspected the adjacent ground water and sewer infrastructure and found everything to be working normally.

Once the repair was completed, the road was resurfaced from 80th Street down to the sinking area. But, almost three months after the work was completed, some of the resurfacing has begun to sink in, creating potholes on the block, and the corner still remains a problem.

The street has been in a bad condition for years but began to worsen after an April 30 flooding disaster, residents said. The Spring Creek sewer overflow facility, maintained by the DEP, malfunctioned during a major rainstorm that night causing the sewers in Lindenwood to back up, flooding the streets.

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A DEP representative said the department has fixed the problem that was causing the street to sink and that they will continue to work with the Department of Transportation to determine what future steps may be necessary to ensure that stormwater can drain off the street properly.

Thompson said the street needs to be elevated to avoid the potential of a tragedy.

“It needs to be fixed again,” he said. “I understand that it is the winter months and it is hard to repave during this time, but at least put cones around the section and make it a caution area until work can be done.”

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Sinking street in Lindenwood continues to worsen


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Lindenwood residents are getting a sinking feeling about one of their streets.

For years, the roadway at the corner of 157th Avenue and 79th Street in has been slowly caving in, but recently it has worsened, leaving residents worried the street might collapse.

“This part of the street has been like this for a while now,” said Joe Thompson, a resident of Lindenwood and president of the Howard Beach Civilian Observation Patrol. “We’ve put in complaints about it to the city.”

After an April 30 flooding disaster, residents say the street has only gotten worse. The Spring Creek sewer overflow facility malfunctioned during a major rainstorm that night causing the sewers in Lindenwood to back up, flooding the streets.

Since then, the part of the roadway that slopes to the sidewalk has been collapsing straight down, forming a ditch along the curb. There is also a large hole forming near the catch basin on the street that sinks down over a foot deep in the asphalt.

“I have family visiting me all the time and I tell them to avoid this block because I do not want their cars to bottom out,” said one resident who was driving by the street. “It’s really bad and it’s only getting worse.”

Thompson said he filed his claim about three weeks ago with 311 but has yet to receive a response. He said that he has talked to residents who have said they have complained for years but have given up because nothing has been done.

“It’s a very unsafe condition and we want to get it addressed,” Thomspon said.  “Hopefully this will be solved.”

The Department of Transportation differed comment to the Department of Environmental Protection which did not respond to email requests for comment.

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South-eastern Queens to get more sewers to alleviate flooding


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

FILE PHOTO

South-eastern Queens neighborhoods, which have long suffered from perpetual flooding, may see some immediate relief after the city announced it would work quickly to create new storm sewers and upgrade catch basements.

A multi-year, $6 billion sewer-upgrade plan to manage the area’s flooding was announced earlier this year, but the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has initiated smaller, targeted projects to control the issues in the interim, including new storm sewers and catch basin upgrades.

“I am very much looking forward to these essential improvements,” said City Councilmember Donovan Richards. “For far too long, large sections of southeast Queens have had to deal with sub-par sewer systems and I eagerly await the relief these new initiatives will bring.”

Storm sewers and 14 new catch basins were installed on 111th Avenue between 155th and 158th Streets and 113th Avenue between 156th and 157th Streets in South Jamaica. There are currently a number of other flood-prone locations under consideration for similar upgrades, according to the DEP, which will be approved in 2014.

These targeted sites are being chosen based on input from elected officials, community groups and 311 flood reports.

“Ground water and flooding issues within southeast Queens cannot be resolved without total cooperation from all involved and we must stay vigilant to ensure the funding continues,” said City Councilmember Leroy Comrie.

More than $383 million have been used over the last ten years to continue to extend the area’s sewer system and the DEP has allocated an additional $380 million for the next ten years.

 

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Far Rockaway residents call for promised fixes to flooding issues


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of Councilmember Donovan Richards

Far Rockaway residents are flooded with problems, and say they have no life raft.

Bay 32nd Street regularly experiences heavy flooding. In August, those concerned came together with the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) to voice their concerns.

DC representatives in charge of repairs and upgrades explained, in detail, the overall improvement plan and temporary fixes that were to be implemented to alleviate the area’s flooding. However, three months later, those plans have yet to be put into action.

Enid Glabman, president of the Bayswater Civic Association, said responses received from the DDC were “courteous, but always the same.”

“New plans had to be drawn and new money had to be appropriated,” she said.

Glabman added the DDC requested “time – a few days, a few weeks,” but nothing has changed.

“These improvements are essential to the resiliency of Rockaway,” Councilmember Donovan Richards said. “We have to ensure that we are prepared for emergency situations and DDC’s lack of commitment to this project is very concerning.”

The DDC acknowledged that flooding has been a problem in this area “for decades, and we know that residents are anxiously awaiting a remedy,” said an agency spokesperson. Also, DDC engineers determined temporary fixes would be inadequate.

After August’s meeting, the agency changed and improved its design plan, which required more money. Now, they have given the project a green light and said residents will see construction soon.

Offsite, at Dwight Avenue, they have begun work on an outfall – a pipe that will channel floodwater into Jamaica Bay.

On November 8, Richards and community members gathered on Bay 32nd Street to hold the DDC responsible for having yet to begin making improvements.

“This project should have re-started months ago,” said John Gaska, District Manager of Community Board 14. “DDC needs to get its house in order.”

Residents experience extensive flooding during heavy rainfall and even more so during last year’s superstorm.

“Over one year after Sandy damaged our sense of security, we need to feel that our city agencies have not forgotten about our community,” Richards said.

 

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Sandy’s heroes celebrate 85 years of service


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

While the night marked 85 years of serving its community, the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department dedicated its annual dinner/dance to all of those who pitched in during Sandy — particularly the men and women who were on duty that night.

Volunteers, friends, family and local leaders celebrated another year of community service on Thursday, January 31 at Russo’s on the Bay. State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Councilmember Eric Ulrich were special honorees, along with former Assemblymember Audrey Pfeffer and former State Senator Serphin Maltese. “Our own firehouse took more than five feet of water, destroying every piece of apparatus we own, and caused extensive damage to the building and equipment,” said treasurer and former chief Mitch Udewitch. “Even during our nightmare, we continued to serve our community, as the new Howard Beach Civic Association began using the department building as a food pantry, a soup kitchen [and a] clothing drop off for area residents. As the devastation became clear, members of the community began stepping forward and helping.”

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder, the night’s presiding officer, swore in new and returning members of the fire department, including Chief Jonah Cohen, who has served a number of terms in the position.

The Howard Beach Kiwanis Club gave a $1,000 contribution to the firehouse. Several donations have been made to the department in the months after the storm. A slew of fire companies from around the country gave equipment, fire trucks and ambulances to the West Hamilton Beach department after its entire arsenal was damaged by flood waters. In December, Duane Reade/Walgreens donated $25,000, which Cohen said would probably go toward a new ambulance.

 

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Central and southern Queens to receive water main upgrade


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of DEP

A $14 million upgrade to replace the borough’s aging water system will soon flow into portions of central and southern Queens, authorities said.

About 13 miles of new ductile iron water mains will be installed to replace old unlined cast ones in Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill and Far Rockaway, according to the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Department of Design and Construction (DDC).

The infrastructure improvement project is expected to improve water quality, pressure and distribution in residential and commercial areas of the neighborhoods by retiring mains that are over 60 years old, the DEP said.

“Public health and the future growth of New York City are contingent on having an adequate supply of high quality water,” DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland said. “By installing nearly 13 miles of new water mains, we will ensure adequate water pressure for firefighting, basic sanitation and clean drinking water for these Queens neighborhoods for decades to come.”

The new water mains will be installed in locations near Union Turnpike, Queens Boulevard, Kew Garden Road, Park Lane South, Myrtle Avenue, Metropolitan Avenue, Hillside Avenue, Jamaica Avenue and Beach 9th Street.

Construction will be done in phases, beginning March 2013, with expected completion in 2015.

Sandy changes Hunter’s Point library plans


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Exterior_roof_terrace

Fear of another Sandy is altering plans for the Queens Library’s upcoming Hunter’s Point destination.

The land supporting the 21,500-square-foot facility, to be located at Center Boulevard and 48th Avenue on the banks of the East River, will be graded an extra foot higher to avoid any possible flooding that could occur during another Sandy-type storm. While initial plans already placed the structure above the 100-year-flood line, library officials, architects and members of the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) agreed an extra measure of caution was necessary.

“The building hasn’t been built yet,” said Queens Library spokesperson Joanne King. “There’s no reason not to make it even higher.”

According to a spokesperson from the DDC, the library, which will sit 150 feet from the shoreline, will be built to withstand dangerous weather, as are other Queens Library facilities.

“Since the lowest floor of the library will be above the level of the floodwaters from Sandy, it is not likely that the building would be damaged by a similar storm,” said the spokesperson. “In addition, the building is designed to withstand winds considerably stronger than Sandy’s. Nevertheless, out of an abundance of caution, the project team decided to increase the elevation of the lowest floor by half a foot.”

According to King, none of the branches of the Queens Library existing in the hard hit areas of Arverne, the Rockaway Peninsula, Broad Channel and Seaside suffered structural damage. Aside from broken glass, minor flooding and damage to interior equipment and books, the buildings remained intact. The Broad Channel branch had been graded up, similarly to what will be done at the new Hunter’s Point location, which kept the building from experiencing as much damage as the other branches.

“Anything that could have been done had been done in the sense that any precaution that had been taken when they were built near the beach was taken,” said King. “There are no basements, they were built on one level. They were as safe as they could have been but it was a very extraordinary circumstance.”

Changed to the building’s plan will not affect the timeline, cost or the design at this stage of construction, said the DDC spokesperson.

The structure will feature a cyber-center, roof terrace and communal garden as well as separate reading spaces for adults, teens and children. According to King, the building will place an emphasis on environmental preservation, implementing ecologically-sound features to create an entirely carbon neutral structure.

Faster flooding fix coming to Middle Village, Maspeth


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Middle Village and Maspeth residents will wave goodbye to water woes a year ahead of schedule.

A pair of Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) capital projects to help alleviate constant flooding in the neighboring communities was moved up after several discussions with Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley. The first upgrade along Calamus Avenue is scheduled to begin construction next summer, with the other job under Penelope Avenue planned for the following spring, a year earlier than originally planned. Surveying for the projects has already begun.

Crowley’s calls for the DEP to investigate the causes behind the flooding picked up after a pair of summer storms flooded dozens of homes in the area.

“The storms in August and September showed that this area’s sewers are not equipped to handle major storms. It was simply unacceptable to ask residents to continue waiting before something was done,” said Crowley.

Under Calamus Avenue an additional 6-foot-by-8-foot pipe will be added in the $15 million project, according to a DEP official. New sewer mains and catch basins will be installed under Penelope Avenue and will cost $7 million. The flooding fixes will each take about a year to complete and will increase the system’s capacity by 80 percent.

Glendale residents who have also faced flood waters filling their homes will have to wait a little longer for relief.

“With the Glendale area, there isn’t a quick fix just yet,” Crowley said.

An investigation into the Glendale flooding and discussions regarding a solution are ongoing, said a DEP official.

Additional solutions to reduce the deluge of rainfall into the sewers are also being considered, according to Crowley’s office, including additional catch basins, green space and permeable surfaces.

Bloomberg says city will rebuild smarter along shore


| brennison@queenscourier.com

DSC_0128w

Despite record storm surges, Mayor Michael Bloomberg vowed to rebuild along the shore, but said it must be “smarter, stronger and more sustainable.”

Bloomberg made the remarks at the New York Marriott Downtown to an audience that included former Vice President Al Gore.

“Let me be clear: We are not going to abandon the waterfront,” Bloomberg said. “We are not going to leave the Rockaways or Coney Island or Staten Island’s South Shore. But we can’t just rebuild what was there and hope for the best.”

The city’s more than 500 miles of shoreline include some of the most desirable places to live, but also the most vulnerable.

Bloomberg announced the launch of an engineering analysis of coastal protection strategies to understand the best options to help protect the city.

An expansion of Zone A will be considered, he said, as well as new structural requirements to ensure that buildings can withstand intense winds and waves. While sea walls are not a likely option, dunes, jetties and levees must be considered to protect the city from rising storm surges, he said.

“We may or may not see another storm like Sandy in our lifetimes, but I don’t think it’s fair to say that we should leave it to our children to prepare for the possibility,” said Bloomberg. “And sea levels are expected to rise by another two and a half feet by the time a child born today reaches 40 years old, and that’s going to make surges even more powerful and dangerous.”

More than two-thirds of homes damaged by Sandy were outside of FEMA’s 100-year flood maps. The maps are drawn to represent an area likely to be flooded about once per century.

“No matter how much we do to make homes and businesses more resilient, the fact of the matter is we live next to the ocean, and the ocean comes with risks that we just cannot eliminate,” Bloomberg said.

Mold spawns health concerns in Sandy flood zone


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

DSC_0128w

Homes that withstood Sandy’s rushing water and brutal winds may now be susceptible to another hazard — mold.

According to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) flood-damaged homes may have already seen extensive mold growth located under floor tiles, wallpaper and carpeting. The Department of Buildings (DOB) has plans to raze roughly 200 homes in Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island that were damaged during the storm, reports said. According to a DOB spokesperson, while the decision to condemn badly damaged houses is based on structural issues, dangerous mold growth is not being taken into consideration.

“[The DOB is] evaluating the structure and stability of buildings,” said the spokesperson. “Mold is a health issue.”

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, who has remained outspoken about the lack of government resources sent to badly damaged areas, called for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the DOHMH to perform daily air and water quality tests throughout those regions to ensure there are no chance of health risks to the community.

According to Goldfeder, residents have expressed concern over the harmful side effects associated with exposure to mold, sewage leaks and air pollutants.

Retired firefighter Steve Orr’s home was inundated by three feet of water during the storm. Busy assisting residents in Breezy Point and the Rockaways, Orr did not begin repairs on the soaked walls of his home until this past Sunday.

“I didn’t think the mold issue was that big for me, but friends kept saying I needed to take care of it,” said Orr. “The more I heard, the more worried I became.”

Orr, who called the extent of the mold damage in his home is a “seven on a scale of one to 10,” said the government should test for possibly dangerous molds and other threats.

Dr. Robert Mittman, an allergist from Bayside, said mold spores can cause a plethora of sinus issues, including allergies and asthma that could grow uncontrollable. Those not allergic to mold are still at risk for pneumonia and other respiratory conditions like COPD.

Those with illnesses such as cancer and the AIDS virus whose immune systems are diminished and unable fight off infections, are at an incredibly high risk.

“It’s a toxic, toxic issue and [mold] is very hard to get rid of,” said Mittman.

Eradicating mold and salvaging an infiltrated structure requires dehumidification within the first 24 to 48 hours, said Mittman, something very few residents were able to accomplish.

“It’s very hard to get rid of mold at this time,” said Mittman. “The best case scenario is not moving back there and to have the house ripped down completely and rebuilt.”

JFK to reopen tomorrow, no timetable for LaGuardia


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will reopen John F. Kennedy International Airport tomorrow with limited service while LaGuardia will remain closed following the devastation brought on by Hurricane Sandy.

Monday, October 29 air carriers ceased all operations in to and out of the Queens airports, and Monday night at 8 p.m., the airports themselves started to follow suit.

“Due to floodwaters generated by Hurricane Sandy, the Port Authority has closed LaGuardia Airport until further notice,” said the transit organization.

The next morning, JFK International closed its doors as well.

The Port Authority advises travelers to stay up to date by checking www.panynj.gov, and stay informed about safety precautions and best practices for New York State via www.governor.ny.gov/stormwatch.

Rockaway preps for Hurricane Sandy


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Rockaway residents are siding with caution and getting the necessities to weather out threats from Hurricane Sandy.

In order to prevent flooding, sand walls are currently being assembled at certain spots along the beaches. Con Edison announced it will also have extra crews available to deal with anticipated power outages.

Many people living near the beach have been heading to stores for supplies to prevent damage or flooding in their homes. Noni Signoretti, the co-owner of a Beach 116th Street hardware store, said the shop had sold out of sandbags and were selling a high number of tape and batteries.

UPDATE:

The city is not planning to evacuate any areas at this time, Mayor Michael Bloomberg told the public at a 6 p.m. briefing. Bloomberg recommended city residents living within flood zones should move to homes of friends and families, or at an evacuation center. The city is not expected to shut down on Monday, Bloomberg said, and all city employees are expected to be in work. Mass transit schedules will run on schedule tomorrow, he said. All events in city parks scheduled for after 2 p.m. have been canceled, he said, and parks will be closed after 5 p.m.

The mayor also advised surfers stay out of the water — despite temptations from high waves that are expected as the Hurricane nears the city. 

“Please, the beaches are dangerous and surfing is extremely dangerous,” Bloomberg said. “You may want to run the risk, but we have to send our emergency workers into the ocean to save you. Their lives are at risk, [and] you just don’t have a right to do that to anyone else.

Governor declares state of emergency as Hurricane Sandy heads for Queens


| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

Meteorologists expect the pre-Halloween hurricane horror “Frankenstorm” to strike Queens early Monday with the strongest surge coming later that day.

Hurricane Sandy has already blown through Haiti and Cuba and is forecasted to make a significant impact on a large portion of the New York metro area, said National Weather Service meteorologist David Stark.  Due to the storm’s potential impact, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency throughout New York.

Tropical storm-level winds may begin Sunday night with the stronger gusts coming Monday.  Sustained winds at 40-50 mph with gusts 60-70 mph  are expected with the potential for even stronger bursts.  Power outages, structural damage and downed trees are common in those types of winds.

Waves may reach 2o-25 feet off the coast.

“What we’ve been saying to everyone in coastal communities is prepare for a significant amount of coastal flooding,” Stark said.

During the heaviest rainfall, one to two inches per hour may flood areas.

Officials have not yet issued mandatory evacuations of low-lying areas, though they are still possible.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has canceled all elective admissions at hospital in Zone A, which include the Queens neighborhoods of the Rockaways, Hamilton Beach and Broad Channel.

A decision on whether to close schools in the city will likely be made on Sunday, the mayor said.

Hurricanes rarely touch down in the area this late in hurricane season which lasts through November. Some have briefly touched the area in October, Stark said.

“It’s happening a little closer to land than what is typically common,” Stark said.

The “Frankenstorm” is interacting with a jet stream and cold front from the west pulling it back to the west rather than continuing out into open waters.