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Pol wants sewer fix after 164th St. flood

Firefighters wade through flood water at 164th Street and 71st Avenue. Photo by Ellis Kaplan
TimesLedger Newspapers

A week after torrential rain caused major flooding in several areas of Fresh Meadows, City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) was scheduled to meet with the city Department of Environmental Protection this week to discuss how area sewers can be improved to prevent similar problems in the future.

The DEP recently concluded a flow monitoring study of city sewer system in Fresh Meadows, which an official with the agency said was overwhelmed last week because of the intensity of the storm, causing water to spill into the streets.

Gennaro, the chairman of the Council Committee on Environmental Protection, and the DEP were preparing to meet this week to discuss the results of the study, which could possibly lead to new capital construction projects that would increase sewer capacity at certain locations.

“I’m presuming they will ask me for money for these projects, and that’s fine with me,” said Gennaro.

Maria DeInnocentiis, a member of Community Board 8, said she was hopeful Gennaro would put pressure on the DEP to do the necessary sewer line projects. She expressed frustration that nothing has been done yet to fix the problem.

She said the DEP continues to use phrases like “100-year floods” when discussing the problem, although she said flooding happens every couple years.

“These people are devastated every couple of years, their homes are wiped out, it’s not fair,” she said.

Gennaro’s office said he was advising constituents who experienced flooding in their homes to file a claim with the city comptroller’s office for any damages.

Last week’s flooding caused several cars to get stuck in swelling water and many people reported flooded basements.

The city Fire Department responded Aug. 1 to multiple calls of stuck vehicles, at 164th Street and 71st Avenue, as well as the Long Island Expressway and Grand Central Parkway at Jewel Avenue. It said that there were no reported injuries.

The National Weather Service estimated that 2.5 inches of rain fell between Forest Hills and Jamaica.

“Yesterday was a disaster,” said Avi Koren, 44, who lives on the corner of Jewel Street and 164th Street and whose basement was flooded with 4 inches of water from the storm.

He said he and his brother spent several hours bailing out his basement and there was damage to the wall panels and some valuable artwork.

He said when he looked outside, “the whole thing was water; everything was water.”

He said he saw cars stuck at the intersection of 164th Street and 71st Avenue in water that reached all the way to the roofs. Fire trucks and ambulances surrounded the area, blocking off the roads, he said.

Other residents in the area also said the intersection was blocked off, causing a long pile-up of cars.

Rashad Abwaje, 46, said his son was traveling home at 1 p.m. and his bus had to stop farther up from its normal route because it could not pass through.

He said he was home himself during the storm and heard sirens outside, but he did not want to go out in the rain to see what was going on.

“It was too much thunder for me,” he said.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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