Days before the 10-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, Canarsie residents, especially those living near Fresh Creek, had something to celebrate – the completion of the $14 million Fresh Creek Coastal Resiliency Project that will protect areas most vulnerable to flooding during future storm surges. The Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR) spearheaded the project in partnership with the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY).
On Wednesday, October 26th, officials from GOSR and DASNY, along with elected officials and members of the Fresh Creek Civic Association, gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Avenue M and East 108th Street.
Construction kicked off in October 2021 (see “Millions Flow Into Fresh Creek For Resiliency Project On The Eve Of Sandy Anniversary,” Canarsie Courier, November 4, 2021), and the project was completed on schedule, this past July.
The ceremony took place at the site of the reconstructed Avenue M Outfall, which had been blocked by sedimentation and debris, hindering the flow of water. A reinforced concrete storm sewer outfall will prevent water from the creek from backflowing through the stormwater sewer system and flooding the neighborhood during storm surges, high tide and extreme weather events. It will also help with coastal erosion.
GOSR Executive Director Katie Brennan said, “By reducing the potential for flooding along Fresh Creek, this project will protect residents and enable important infrastructure to withstand the impact of future storms.”
Many homes in the Fresh Creek area of Canarsie, which is now considered a FEMA-designated Special Flood Hazard Area, were devastated by Superstorm Sandy and the shoreline is frequently flooded during storm surges and high tide, causing catch basins to overflow with stormwater. Brennan said that Brooklyn and Queens are the most vulnerable coastal areas in NYC, and many feel that Canarsie was forgotten after Sandy.
The $14 million project also provided for new tide gate chambers within culverts flowing to Fresh Creek at Avenues K, L, M, N and Seaview Avenue. These gates or “flappers” will protect the exit point from the sewage pipelines into the creek and will allow the existing drainage system to function more efficiently.
Fresh Creek Civic President Maria Garrett, whose house is visible from the Avenue M Outfall, is a testament of what an everyday citizen can do make important changes in her community. The passionate advocate and community leader fought tirelessly after Sandy struck her home and those of her neighbors.
“This is my passion,” Garrett said. “Sandy was just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve had many floods; no one knew where the floods were coming from. The residences were always flooding, but we never got flooded from the creek. Sandy hit and that’s when I got flooded. I had no sewer problems. We had to start from the foundation, which was the sewer system, and then we went to coastal protection and that was the bulk of the work that had to be done.”
At her last civic meeting, two weeks prior, she asked residents if they have had flooding since the project was completed. “No one was flooded. So, it’s working. And we are going to continue to monitor it and make sure that we don’t have this problem again.” Thanking all the elected officials for their support, Garrett said next on the agenda is to make sure everyone’s homes are restored and other areas that are still flooding need to be addressed.
Assemblywoman Jaime Williams, Councilwoman Mercedes Narcisse and Jennifer Viechweg-Horsford from State Senator Roxanne Persaud’s office thanked all of the agencies involved in the extensive project.