A rainstorm back on April 30th brought 2.32 inches of rain to Brooklyn, causing extreme flooding in Bergen Beach, along with some flooding in Flatlands, Flatbush, Mill Basin and Mill Island.
Previous storms on April 28th and 29th brought a combined rainfall of 2.79 inches on top of April 30th’s amount, resulting in a total of 5.11 inches in just three days. New York City’s coastal communities are often hit hard by strong rains, and this storm was no exception.
The streets and homes located between Avenue U and Avenue T, and East 69th Street and Bergen Avenue, were flooded. Many basements flooded through shower drains and toilets, though some people said water was actually coming in through their floors. Some homes were flooded with just rainwater, but others had sewage.
“Water came up through bathroom,” one Mill Basin resident said on the NextDoor app. “City shuts off sewer line, nowhere for the water to go but back into basement. Looking for a solution for this. Been here three years and it has happened three times already.”
Bergen Beach Civic Association President Sal Calise told the Canarsie Courier that he was fielding calls from residents all night as his neighbors called him to report floods.
He said that around 67 houses were affected by the flooding, and many residents had to trash belongings and furniture that were ruined by the sewage and water.
His own house was spared thanks to a backflow valve his home has that prevents sewage from backing up into the home.
“At this point, I said, ‘This is ridiculous; this can’t be happening,’” Calise said. “We just had a $56 million sewerage system put in. We’re supposed to avoid this.”
Calise was referring to a sewer and street project by the NYC Departments of Environmental Protection (DEP), Transportation and Design and Construction that has been disrupting daily life for Bergen Beach residents for almost five years.
While the project in and of itself is a positive — dozens of existing storm sewers, catch basins, fire hydrants, sidewalks and curbs were replaced and many new ones have been added — it has brought drilling, water stoppage, street closures and banging so hard that it’s caused cracked walls in some homes.
The project is currently in between Phases D and E, with E being the final phase. Phase E is the step that’s supposed to ensure no more flooding, but it’s still only in the design stage.
“It’s kind of disappointing,” Calise said. “I mean, the neighborhood of Bergen Beach has been inconvenienced for the last five years. We’ve put up with the Bergen Beach Sewer Project with the intention of saying, ‘Okay, it’s going to make things better.’ But then you go through all that pain and grief for five years, and then a big rainstorm comes, and people are flooded. We want answers at this point.”
Bergen Beach Civic organized an emergency meeting with DEP soon after the situation, where engineers and managers listened to residents’ experiences.
The DEP staff also took down a list of addresses for people who had flooding and visited the homes the following day for inspections. There will be another meeting in the coming weeks to provide an update from these inspections.
“I am going to stay on top of it,” Calise said. “I’m going to be like a dog on a bone because there’s no way these people went through hell for the last five years and we’re told we’re putting in a new sewer system, a bigger sewer system, this, that and other thing — and then we flooded.”