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Howard Beach senior drowns in non-flood zone

Remnants of flooding are visible on 98th Street a day after a woman drowned during superstorm Sandy. Photo by Christina Santucci
TimesLedger Newspapers

Neighbors of a Howard Beach woman who drowned during superstorm Sandy questioned why the area was not evacuated.

“The mayor said this wasn’t a flood zone,” said Annette Albanese, who lives on 98th Street near 165th Avenue and described the storm surge as reaching the second floor of homes.

That section of Old Howard Beach was designated as part of Zone B, so evacuation was not mandatory.

“All of a sudden, it was upon us and it was too late,” Albanese said.

As the gushing water filled the streets, residents said they heard their elderly neighbor yelling Monday evening, but the current was too strong to rescue her.

“We heard her screaming for help, but no one could get to her,” Albanese said. “The water was unbelievable.”

On Thursday, police identified the woman as 85-year-old Rose Faggiano.

“She just didn’t want to leave,” said Kevin Orlando, who said he asked Faggiano if she wanted to evacuate several times before the storm hit.

Christine Orlando said she believed Faggiano was a widow, lived alone and did not have any children.

“She swept the leaves every day,” said Kevin Orlando, who added that the senior did not own a TV and wondered if Faggiano understood the severity of the approaching storm.

Jay Soto said Faggiano was mobile and often walked about the neighborhood.

Albanese said many neighbors called 911 but were told emergency responders could not reach the flooded area of Old Howard Beach.

“They couldn’t come back here because the water was too deep,” she said.

Albanese said another woman who lived in a ground-floor apartment was trapped on a second-floor stoop with her dogs for about three hours as Sandy raged.

Eventually, Albanese’s son was tied to an extension cord and he braved the current to reach the stranded woman and let her inside the locked apartment.

Once the flood waters had receded, emergency responders arrived on the street and shuttled the stranded woman away, Albanese said.

Reach photo editor Christina Santucci by e-mail at timesledgerphotos@gmail.com or by phone at 718-260-4589.

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