Neighbors hear screams of Howard Beach woman but unable to help before she drowned

Neighbors hear screams of Howard Beach woman but unable to help before she drowned
By Christina Santucci

Residents on 98th Street in Howard Beach said they heard an elderly woman yelling as storm surge waters filled the street Monday evening, but the current was too strong for them to rescue her.

“We heard her screaming for help, but no one could get to her,” said Annette Albanese, who lives several homes down near 165th Avenue. “The water was unbelievable.”

Police confirmed that a woman in her 70s drowned in the home but had not identified her by 6 p.m.

Neighbors said her name was Rose.

“She just didn’t want to leave,” said Kevin Orlando, who said he asked the woman if she wanted to evacuate several times before the storm hit.

Christine Orlando said she believed the woman was a widow, lived alone and did not have any children.

“She swept the leaves every day,” said Kevin Orlando, who added that the senior did not own a TV and wondered if she understood the severity of the approaching storm.

Jay Soto said the woman was mobile and often walked about the neighborhood.

Albanese said that many neighbors called 911 but were told emergency responders could not reach the flooded area of Old Howard Beach.

“They couldn’t come back here because the water was too deep,” she said.

Residents described the flooding as reaching the second floor of homes.

Albanese said a woman who lived in a ground-floor apartment was trapped on a second-floor stoop for about three-hours as Sandy raged.

Eventually, Albanese’s son was tied to an extension cord and he braved the current to reach the stranded woman and let her inside the locked apartment.

Albanese questioned why Howard Beach residents were not told to evacuate.

“All of a sudden, it was upon us and it was too late.”

Reach photo editor Christina Santucci by e-mail at timesledgerphotos@gmail.com or by phone at 718-260-4589.