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For residents along Utopia Parkway in the blocks south of the Long Island Expressway, Saturday night's storm was déjà vu.
The area flooded during the storm, just as in previous storms last summer and in downpours dating back decades. Last Saturday's storm doused the borough with about two inches of rain per hour, according to reports from the National Weather Service, which released flash flood warnings and an urban flood advisories during the downpour.
The National Weather Service centers at Kennedy and LaGuardia airports reported record rainfall of 1.66 and 1.72 inches, respectively, for the Saturday deluge.
And just as in storms past, basements throughout Fresh Meadows flooded, some with several feet of water. The LIE flooded and the water level rose up to the windows of cars unfortunate enough to be traveling along the roadway during the storm.
Monday evening, along the west side of Utopia Parkway — where driveways slope down to basement level, contributing to water damage — residents braced for another deluge even as cleanup companies hired to work on flood damage from the Saturday storm packed up their trucks.
In Sunny Tam's apartment on Utopia Parkway near 65th Avenue, the high water mark reached the fifth step of the staircase near his kitchen.
"It was like a river," he said of the stormwater Saturday. It damaged his washer and dryer, bed, mattress, desk, couch and boiler, he said. "This is the lowest point [in the area] and the water starts with the storm and then comes up from the drains. It comes from three directions," he said, meaning Utopia plus both sides of 65th Avenue.
Jerry Maier, a project manager with the Trade Winds remediation company, pointed at a line of plastic trash bags stretching along the full length of a house on 65th Avenue to show the day's work.
"This is the second time [since August 2007] I've had to throw everything out," said Nancy Yudelson, who hired Maier after her basement flooded.
"We have to use a biocide to kill the fungus" in the damp walls and flooring inside, where 14 fans hummed, Maier said. "And that's once we get it dry. That's why we have so many fans going."
City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) and state Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) were calling on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to do more to prevent flooding in the area, and asking him to provide funding to the city Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees the sewer system, to improve its infrastructure.
Reach reporter Alex Christodoulides by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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