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Checking when high tides are going to hit are not at the top of most Queens residents’ to-do lists, but it is essential for Margarita Bravo.
“I’m always checking because I’m trapped in my own house,” the Davenport Court resident said Monday. “I’m a prisoner in my own house.”
Bravo’s street is the only one in Hamilton Beach that does not have a working duct valve, which helps drain rising waters from Jamaica Bay, after it broke 10 years ago, she said.
Despite writing numerous letters to the city Department of Environmental Protection, Bravo said the block’s effort to get the agency to replace the valve has fallen on deaf ears.
“They have to sign the work order and put the valve here and they are the ones who are stalling,” Bravo said. “The neighbors here, we’ve been fighting for such a long time. It’s a simple duct valve that I need. I’m not asking for raising the street or a bulkhead.”
City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Rockaway Beach) sent a letter to the DEP June 24, urging the agency to rectify the situation.
“To date, I have not received any correspondence regarding this matter and I am eagerly awaiting the results of your investigation,” Ulrich wrote. “I am hoping that you can expedite this matter so that this problem can be resolved.”
Bravo, who has lived on Davenport Court for 15 years, estimated her street floods nearly half the year and said the block was inundated with water for seven days in a row recently.
“How much longer can I wait [for a duct valve]?” she asked.
Bravo said she was especially concerned for children who play in the water, which contains sewage.
“I have all the children swimming in the water,” she said.
Due to the severe flooding, Davenport Court residents park their cars further inland on the street at the Hamilton Beach Volunteer Firefighters station.
Other streets in Hamilton Beach have the same levels of flooding, but the duct valve drains the water quickly, Bravo said.
Despite the flooding problems, Bravo said she has no plans to move to a home on high ground.
“This is my home. We put so much money into it,” she said. “It’s our neighborhood.”
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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