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Officials announce flood fix for E. Elmhurst neighbors

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U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), state Sen. John Sabini (D-Jackson Heights) and Borough President Helen Marshall announced earlier this month that the city Department of Environmental Protection will custom-build a specialized duct valve near the corner of Astoria Boulevard and 88th Street."It is rare that I have the pleasure of announcing a solution to a problem as severe as the sewage flooding that the residents of this community have experienced for more than 30 years," Crowley said. "This is a crisis that has impacted the quality of life, financial lives and the community morale for far too long."For decades, storm water and high tides have combined to overwhelm the neighborhood's antiquated combined sewer lines, sending a heady mix of raw sewage into neighbors' basements and alleyways.Residents along 88th and 87th streets between Astoria Boulevard and 24th Avenue say damages have reached into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many are no longer eligible for flood insurance.Planners expect the valve to eliminate about 95 percent of the area's flooding problem, said Ruth Turville, leader of a small coalition of local residents who banded together to represent their neighbors and petition politicians for help. According to Crowley's office, which credited Sabini with spearheading the effort, the DEP also will install several new sewers in the neighborhood at a cost of $500,000 a block.In the long term, the DEP also has pledged to study the possibility of installing tide gates at nearby Bowery Bay to permanently eliminate the problem. The tide gate project would represent a multimillion dollar investment, Crowley's office said."If you live here, flooding is a problem every time the sky darkens," Marshall said. "Today, federal, state, city and county officials are here to announce short- and long-term solutions to these long-standing problems." Meanwhile, Turville said residents were still seeking reimbursement for damages from the city Controller's office.Reach reporter James DeWeese by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

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