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Queens Chronicle

Flood victims say it is the system that failed

Some residents say their homes flood even when Spring Creek facility works

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Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:56 am, Thu May 22, 2014.

For Lindenwood residents, there was no doubt that the April 30 flood, which struck the neighborhood during a heavy rainstorm, was abnormal.

But while the city asserts that flood was due to a failure of the sewer overflow facility in Spring Creek, some residents say there is still a problem and the city is ignoring it.

James Noto spoke to the Queens Chronicle about flooding problems at his home on 153rd Avenue three weeks before the flood. His home has repeatedly been a victim of water, though never as bad as what happened late last month.

On the night of April 30, Noto was walking off a plane with his family from Florida. When he arrived home in Lindenwood, he drove up to a nightmare.

“There was water up to my shins in the street,” he said, adding that he had to carry each of three young children one at a time to the house through the water, as well as their luggage. “The children were petrified.”

At least four feet of water flooded his basement, ruining family photos — some dating back decades — computers, entertainment equipment and other personal items. The water entered the basement with such force that a refrigerator was tossed around like a plastic toy.

While that flood was devastating, Noto said his house gets water even during lighter rainstorms.

“I don’t know if it’s because I’m on the corner or what, but I’m not the only house this happens to,” he said.

The basement in the house across the street from Noto took on a small amount of water in at least two storms — a heavy rain in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy. Noto’s home also saw some water in those events, though nothing like this past April 30.

Adrienne Lasaponara’s home flooded during Hurricane Irene and was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. She has had water in her home several other times, including on March 30 — one month before the flood. She called 911, but she was told it wasn’t an emergency. Her home was also struck hard by the April 30 storm.

Lasaponara, a lifelong resident of Lindenwood, said last month the flooding has gotten worse in the past decade or so and the increase in flooding coincided with the development of new apartments along Spring Creek, built during the 1980s and 1990s.

A city Department of Environmental Department spokesman said last week that the sewer system in the neighborhood was adequate and DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd echoed those comments at Community Board 10 on May 1.

But Noto said the city is wrong, that there are problems with the sewer system and they to look more deeply at the problem before it gets out of control and sends the neighborhood into a decline.

He added that according to a letter sent to him by state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), the DEP did some work on catch basins on 80th Street, but not near his house, which he said are often filled with water long after it rains.

“I want to stay here, raise my kids here, I don’t want to leave,” Noto said. “Some people want to leave. We can’t live with his threat hanging over our heads every day.”

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