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Thompson weighs flood claim options

By Alex Christodoulides

A year after the Aug. 8, 2007, storm that drenched Queens and flooded hundreds of homes, city Comptroller William Thompson announced he is examining ways to compensate New Yorkers for the millions of dollars in damage to their property and has offered to extend by six months the deadline to file claims against the city.

In order for Thompson's office to process claims, the city Department of Environmental Protection had to submit its analyses of the water and sewer systems, something it only did last April — nine months after the last of the two major storms to soak Queens on July 17, 2007, and Aug. 8, 2007.

DEP claimed in its report that the city was not responsible for the flooding damage, Thompson's office said. A DEP spokeswoman referred calls for comment about the report to the city Law Department.

“DEP claimed it was an act of God,” a spokesman for the comptroller said, adding that he had been unable to obtain a copy of the agency's report.

Now Thompson must find other ways to compensate New Yorkers for the $27 million in damages caused by the two storms as well as an April 15, 2007, storm that primarily affected Staten Island.

“We are working to find a solution that is equitable to homeowners and residents,” Thompson said, but declined to elaborate on the possibilities. “We're looking at a number of different options for how to treat people fairly, but nothing's final.”

But some do not believe that the storms and flooding were an act of God and insist that there are underlying and unaddressed infrastructural inadequacies with Queens storm sewers.

“Some places we saw in southeast Queens, there were no sewers,” Thompson said. “Other places, development has occurred since the sewers were put in, and it's changed things.”

But there are definitely sewers on Yellowstone Boulevard in Forest Hills, where several buildings flooded extensively during the Aug. 8, 2007 storm, and residents dispute DEP's claim that the damage resulted from an act of God.

And there are sewers in Fresh Meadows, though longtime residents say the infrastructure has never been adequate and the area has always flooded during heavy rains.

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