The first hour of Community Board 10 last Thursday felt more like The Situation Room in the White House during a natural disaster than the cramped Knights of Columbus hall in South Ozone Park.
One day after a rainstorm dumped almost 6 inches of rain on parts of Queens, flooding dozens of Lindenwood homes, elected officials and department commissioners alike gathered at Community Board 10’s monthly meeting to assert their support for homeowners impacted by the storm.
Standing alongside state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park) put a positive spin on the response, heralding the various city agencies that came to the area as well as those living in the neighborhood who did what they could to help.
“This really is what it’s all about. We all came together and we all found a problem,” Goldfeder said, “and much like we saw after Hurricane Sandy, that’s what makes this community great.”
Addabbo agreed, saying the neighborhood is at its strongest when everyone works in unison to solve a problem.
“It’s been a long day. I’m hopeful, by working together, we can resolve and alleviate this issue,” Addabbo said. “Only by working together, can we go forward.”
However, the Assemblyman wasn’t without criticism for the city, as he expressed his wish for better infrastructure throughout South Queens in front of Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Emily Lloyd and Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joe Bruno.
“We’ve wanted action for a long time. It’s unfortunate it took a storm to point out what we’ve all known for so many years,” he said. “We need real infrastructure. Now is the time to make sure funding is in place in the city budget.”
DEP sources would later say that a possible system failure at the Spring Creek sewer overflow facility in Brooklyn may have exacerbated the flooding, but Lloyd said Thursday the agency is investigating the situation.
“We will be looking at all the information that is [being] gathered from people who have damage in their homes to try and figure out what patterns emerged from that,” Lloyd said. “In addition, we are looking at every piece of our system DEP manages ... to see what we can learn in terms of how that is functioning and seems to have functioned during the storm.”
Lloyd, like Bruno, also pushed for residents impacted by floodwaters to file claims as quickly as possible, instead of waiting toward the end of the 90-day period.
Despite the sharp criticisms over what Goldfeder believes is a preventable issue, he thanked Lloyd for her quick action and willingness to stand in front of the community mere hours after the rain had ceased.
“Regardless of the outcome, the commissioner of DEP was out here early,” he said. “She was aggressive about getting her guys in the field.”
Officially, the storm dropped 5.43 inches of rain at LaGuardia Airport and 4.96 inches at JFK, making it the 10th rainiest day in the city’s history.