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Fed Up With Flooding

The freak storm that ripped through Queens and surrounding areas on Wednesday morning, July 18, created chaos on our highways and streets; at our airports; in our subways and railways; and flooded our homes and businesses.
The downpour dumped three inches of rain in Fresh Meadows alone. Queens Borough President Helen Marshall sent a letter requesting Governor Eliot Spitzer and Mayor Michael Bloomberg declare Queens an emergency disaster area so that emergency relief can be granted to the borough as soon as possible.
In her letter, Marshall said Queens residents in the hard-hit areas of southeast Queens, Whitestone, Elmhurst and Woodside are wondering why the city’s infrastructure cannot protect their homes and businesses from these natural disasters.
City Councilmember Leroy Comrie pointed out that the “occurrence of flash floods in southeast Queens has historically been an ongoing problem,” adding, “The majority of flooding that occurs is due to the inadequate drainage system in southeast Queens,” coupled with one of the highest water table levels in the metropolitan area.
Moreover, Comrie points out that there is only sporadic cleaning of catch basins, which exacerbates the problem. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) lists over 135,000 catch basins throughout the city and cleaning crews reach each neighborhood only once every three years, on average.
In a city that just announced a record $4.7 billion budget surplus for the fiscal year that just ended, it seems to us that officials should do a better job of removing debris that clogs the sewer system more often than once every three years.
While neighborhoods like St. Albans, Rosedale, Hollis and Queens Village suffered heavy flooding damage, Comrie noted that Flushing, Bayside and Glendale suffered too.
Residents who suffered property damage due to sewer pipe overflow or street flooding must file claim forms within 90 days from the date of the damage at the Office of the New York City Comptroller. Forms may also be obtained at https://www.comptroller.nyc.gov.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued a 2007 hurricane outlook that calls for a very high likelihood of an above-normal season, predicting 13-17 named storms, 7-10 hurricanes and 3-5 major hurricanes.
The NOAA expects the vast majority of tropical storms and hurricanes to form during the period from August to October in the Atlantic Ocean. While hurricanes do the bulk of their damage in states such as Florida and North Carolina, they can bring torrential rains, damaging winds and severe flooding to our area.
Our elected officials must address our flooding issues as rapidly as possible!
If our infrastructure cannot handle a freak storm without chaotic consequences, how will it handle a sustained storm? We all know the answer - more flooding affecting thousands of city residents and hundreds of businesses.

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