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Queens Chronicle

Rainwater overflow on Maspeth streets

Civic group speaks out on flooded basements, manholes and gutters

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Posted: Thursday, June 6, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:40 am, Thu Jun 13, 2013.

Kathy Hamilton, a Maspeth resident, said she’s sick of waking up to a flooded basement.

“Everybody in the area gets flooded continually,” she said. “And we’ve called up everyone to get this fixed.”

And yet, five years after moving into her home on 60th Street, the problem persists.

According to Hamilton, whenever substantial rainfall occurs, the sewer system overflows, turning manholes into gurgling fountains of rainwater and trickling water into nearby homes.

“I’m always hearing complaints about this, but contractors are still being allowed to build here and the system becomes overloaded,” she said. “There are certain people who have just moved here and are beginning to experience this issue, and I don’t know what to say to them.”

Hamilton brought her concerns to last week’s meeting of the Maspeth West End Block Association — of which she acts as co-president with Charlene Stubbs — where City Council hopeful Craig Caruana addressed residential concerns and comments.

“I don’t think our current Council member is doing everything she can to make this a better district,” Caruana, who is running against Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) to represent the 30th District, said. “If people don’t make these things an issue, they’re just going to let it go unnoticed.”

After a little bit of encouraging from Stubbs, Hamilton brought up her rainwater problem.

“Could you do anything about the overflow problem we have?” she asked. “Every time it rains, all of my neighbors have to throw away everything in their basements and nothing is ever done about it.”

“When I called to complain, they told me that having sewer backup is no different from having rainwater flood into your home,” Stubbs added. “I can’t believe that. I don’t know how much of this water is sewage and how much is not. I don’t want my child exposed to anything that could get her sick.”

According to Crowley’s office, the councilwoman has been working on short-term and long-term fixes for flooding throughout the district, including West Maspeth. Crowley has met with the Department of Environmental Protection several times to discuss the installation of a new water main on 54th Street between Grand and Flushing avenues, said her spokesman, Eric Yun. The main is expected to be completed next year and is expected to improve water flow throughout the area.

While Caruana couldn’t speak directly to Hamilton’s sewer problem, he did say he would look into it and the other issues.

In addition to overflowing sewers, Caruana discussed his concerns over property taxes, water rates, immigration and law enforcement — topics he has focused most of his campaign on.

“Water rates have been increasing at an unacceptable rate and all of this money is going to cover the DEP debt and multibillion-dollar filtration facilities,” he said. “Maybe some of these projects we do need. I’m not saying we can’t work on projects, but let’s publish it because if we have to bite the bullet, we should know what it’s for.”

Borough president candidate and Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) was also scheduled to meet with the civic members but was unable to make it due to a last-minute commitment. He did send a representative to write down questions and concerns that stemmed from the meeting.

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