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Queens Chronicle

South Ozone Park sewage backup cleanup underway

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Posted: Monday, December 2, 2019 12:10 pm | Updated: 12:49 pm, Thu Dec 5, 2019.

A sewage backup that may have been caused by grease poured down kitchen drains over the Thanksgiving holiday damaged as many 74 homes in South Jamaica last Saturday, officials said.

City workers went door to door Sunday night and Monday morning, assessing damage and identifying homes that need assistance, according to a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection.

The backup affected an area of about 40 square blocks bounded by Baisley Pond Park and the Van Wyck Expressway on the east and west, and Rockaway Boulevard and the Belt Parkway on the4 north and south.

Residents reported their basements began flooding around 1 a.m. Saturday morning. The foul-smelling effluent rose to several feet in some homes. The losses, some homeowners told reporters, were total.

The cleanup was delayed by heavy rains on Sunday that, in some cases, drove water back into basements that had just been pumped out. 

Crews worked Sunday to build a bypass in the sewer system between the area and the Jamaica Wastewater Treatment Plant justy south of the Nassau Expressway.

"This should end any further backups into basements," the spokesman told the Chronicle.

A service center for residents was set up Monday at the Courtyard Marriott at 145-11 North Conduit.

Representatives of the Office of Emergency Management, the Red Cross and DEP are in the office to offer assistance with cleanup and help residents who wish to file claims against the city fill out the paperwork.

An undetermined number of residents elected to evacuate their homes and spend the last two nights in a Red Cross shelter, according to reports.

DEP workers were still trying to locate the cause of the backup Monday.

Some officials speculated that coagulated grease in the pipes from holiday meals last Thursday may have created what it called a "fatburg," a buildup of cooking waste that clogs sewer lines. 

It is also possible the the sewer line has collapsed somewhere between the neighborhood and the waste treatment plant just on the other side of the Belt Parkway near JFK International Airport. 

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