City allays fears of floods in SE Queens

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City officials made a second trip to southeast Queens Monday night to reassure residents that they would do their best to prevent another flood from inundating their streets and damaging their homes.

Cas Holloway, the commissioner for the city Department of Environmental Protection, led a meeting at the First Presbyterian Church of Springfield Gardens on 137th Avenue to personally hear the concerns of neighbors who were affected by the torrential Aug. 22 rains that swamped the neighborhood.

Those who live on Springfield Boulevard north of the Belt Parkway said their streets have been prone to flooding during strong storms and they wanted the DEP to do something to prevent it, according to City Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton), who arranged for the meeting.

Residents asked the commissioner what he is going to do to prevent water from pouring into their homes again.

“How are you going to fix our foundation?” asked Denise Wright, who lives on Springfield Boulevard and Edgewood Avenue.

Holloway said the floods were fluke incidents because the newly installed storm drainage systems and catch basins were clogged with trash and debris when less than an inch of rain fell on the area within a 20-minute period.

“The infrastructure is there. We need to make sure it’s doing its job,” he said.

In 2001, the DEP installed an 8-by-17-foot storm sewer that should have been able to handle the large amount of rain. The problem was exacerbated when first responders got to the flood sites and opened up manholes on the street, which may have led to non-storm draining sewers and backed up into people’s homes, according to the DEP.

The agency hosted a similar meeting two weeks ago to address the problem and after receiving numerous complaints from residents about the damage and the flooding, it placed the neighborhood on a watch list for cleanup.

Now anytime there are weather reports of a major rain storm in the city, the DEP will send representatives from the city Sanitation Department to make sure the catch basins and sewers are cleaned, according to Halloway.

“I can assure you now, this community is on the list of communities that DEP and DSNY will come out if there is a major storm,” he said.

In the meantime, those who suffered damage to their properties in the area could be eligible for compensation from the city. John Graham, the director of settlements and adjudications for the city comptroller’s office, urged any such homeowner to file a claim within 90 days of the storm and each case will be thoroughly evaluated.

“We will work closely with the DEP to determine the liability,” he said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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