Rain, melting snow flood low-lying parts of Queens

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The blizzard that buried the borough joined forces with heavy rains over the weekend to leave a trail of flooded streets, backed-up sewers and potholes all over Queens, especially in low-lying areas.

There were no reports of major flood-related evacuations such as those that occurred in Brooklyn and Westchester County, but the borough had its own share of headaches.

City Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Natalie Millner said crews worked 24 hours a day to clear catch basins covered with snow citywide before rainwater overwhelmed sewers in some places, causing backups in toilets and drains in homes. Large puddles formed on many streets.

Millner could not assess which parts of Queens had the most problems. But southeast Queens residents, whose homes had been besieged by chronic flooding after heavy storms for years until the city constructed a new sewer line there during the Giuliani administration, did complain of basement and street flooding.

“It has been especially bad (this year),” said Fred Kress, president of the Rosedale Civic Association. “Most of the streets along the corners are impassable in low-lying areas.”

Kress said cars had stalled out in puddles, and he knew of residents who had placed wooden planks in front of their homes to cross the moat.

“It’s been like that since I was a kid,” said Kress.

Yvonne Reddick, district manager of Community Board 12 in the greater Jamaica area, said her office did not receive complaints of flooding.

But DEP got 62 reports of sewer backups from residents in Community Board 12 last weekend, according to Millner.

In Community Board 13, which covers Rosedale, Bellerose, Laurelton, Cambria Heights and Queens Village, there were 35 reports to DEP of sewer backups during that time.

“There is so much water flowing into them that they can’t handle the amount of sewage that should be going to waste water treatment plants,” said Millner of the sewers.

Jonathan Gaska, district manager of Community Board 14 in the Rockaways, did not return a call seeking comment, but his board registered the highest number of street flooding complaints in southeast Queens at 14.

A power outage on 142nd Street and Rockaway Boulevard affected 1,538 customers between 10:55 p.m. Saturday night and 12:17 a.m. Sunday morning, a Con Edison spokesman said.

Drivers on the Cross Island and Belt Parkways were stuck for miles as the Department of Transportation began its latest “pothole blitz” Sunday.

Potholes were rampant throughout Queens as water seeped into crevices in roadways, froze, expanded and broke up the asphalt above.

On the first day, DOT repaired 548 potholes in Queens—a much higher number than usual, according to DOT spokesman Keith Kalb.

Kalb urged residents to help the city pinpoint potholes by reporting them to (718) CALL-DOT or

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at or call 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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