The sound of rain is the sound of a nightmare starting for homeowners as they watch the sewers on their blocks backing up, spewing water and refuse into their basements.
The two most recent incidents occurred on Aug. 15, a day of thunderstorms throughout Queens, and last Saturday morning, Sept. 8, in which a quick moving thunderstorm dumped heavy amounts of rain in a short span of time.
What was the end result? The Cooper Avenue underpass became a swimming pool, with several feet of water filling the bottom. In both the August and September storms, cars became submerged after drivers attempted to drive through the miniature lake. On top of that, streets in Glendale just south of the underpass also became waterlogged.
Middle Village residents living in the area of Penelope Avenue and 72nd Street also experienced flooding. A dramatic video taken during last Saturday’s storm by a homeowner and posted on YouTube showed water just gushing out of an open manhole, its iron cover lifted by the sheer force of the backflow. A nasty combination of water, debris and even sewage filled the streets as well as nearby driveways, garages and basements.
When and how did all of this start? Residents are saying they never had anything like this, and some of them have lived in the same house for 20 or 30 years.
It’s not as if this is a flood zone. This is Glendale and Middle Village, not New Orleans (which is below sea level and protected by a complex levee system) or the Rockaways (which lie on the coastlines). The nearest waterway is the Newtown Creek, but there is no evidence that it is contributing to the flooding problems in both neighborhoods.
Residents and elected officials, however, are pointing to an antiquated or obsolete sewer infrastucture as a factor in the recent flooding, and they are calling on the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to do something about it. Following disastrous floods in the borough in August 2007, the DEP invested millions in upgrading sewer lines across Queens, but judging by the recent floods, they still have a long way to go toward improving sewers in Glendale and Middle Village.
It was reported that a sewer improvement project in Middle Village is in the works, but that it won’t start until at least 2015. What should the residents of flood prone areas in that neighborhood do until then—build and live in arks?
Every year, Glendale and Middle Village residents join their neighbors across the city in paying higher water rates. The DEP claims that they continually need these increases in order to continue to maintain the city’s water and sewer systems.
It’s about time that the residents of Glendale and Middle Village get what they pay for: the sewer improvements they need immediately to finally put to rest this frustrating flooding problem that’s washing away their quality of life.