Lindenwood livid at DEP

By Debbie Cohen

Hundreds of homeowners and renters came out to hear city Comptroller Scott Stringer speak at the Howard Beach-Lindenwood Civic Association about the April 30 Lindenwood rainstorm, which flooded basements, garages and apartments with more than 2 feet of water, causing thousands of dollars of damage.

Many described the horrors of Hurricane Sandy, but some said this flooding was worse and they wanted to know about reimbursement from the city and how long it will take.

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) and John Graham, director of commercial real estate and property damage from the Comptroller’s office, were on hand Tuesday to answer questions.

But the real disappointment came when people learned the city Department of Environmental Protection did not show up, which Stringer and Ulrich said was unacceptable and a disgrace.

“I live in Lindenwood and the DEP commissioner will hear it from me,” Ulrich said. “When DEP admitted malfunction in the electronic system at Spring Creek, which caused the overflow of water, I knew for a long time this could have been avoided.”

Stringer explained that DEP claimed responsibility for the flooding and residents can file a water damage/property loss claim with his office and all claims will be evaluated and engineers will come out to people’s damaged property to access the losses.

“We will not let the government drop the ball in this community and we will do everything to resolve this issue, so a repeat will not happen again,” Stringer said. “You must file a claim online or by certified mail within 90 days for consideration and the online site is comptroller.nyc.gov/forms-n-rfps/filing-claims/.”

Still, Graham said, there might be a waiting period for claim processing because DEP has to get its final report with statistics to the comptroller’s office. In addition, at the meeting he said claim forms were being handed out and notaries were on hand to facilitate the process.

“DEP was going to get the report to us last week — now they said this week,” Graham said. “We will do everything we can to resolve this and if you don’t have receipts, then try to itemize a list of damaged property and take photos and we will send someone to come down to access the damage, including structural damage, flooring and sheetrock. If you get an estimate for materials, send that in with your claim. Landlords can also send in proof of loss of income because a tenant can no longer live in a dwelling.”

Some angry residents shouted, “We want the money now and we want our sewers cleaned out. The malfunction that happened at Spring Creek should never happen again and we want to know how much money we will get.”

Rose Caligiuri, board secretary of Green Tree Condominiums in Howard Beach, said she got 4 feet of water in her home.

“Will my insurance company even reimburse me for any damage?” she asked. “I’m also concerned about rising insurance premiums due to this flooding.”

Yet another Lindenwood resident, Marie Cazzalino, who lives on 80th Street near 151st Avenue, said she had 4 feet of water rush into her home and everything is gone.

“This was worse than Sandy for me, just devastating and I hope I will be compensated,” she said. “I have been living here for over 35 years and I have never seen flooding as bad as this rainstorm on April 30.”

Michael Tamburo, a Lindenwood landlord who owns a condominium unit on 80th Street near 153rd Avenue, was concerned about hot water heater damage and wall and floor damage from the flood waters.

“I hope I get reimbursed for this soon — this is just a horrible situation,” he said.

Civic President Joann Ariola said DEP should be ashamedof not showing up.

“DEP should get a tongue-lashing,” she said. “Where are they and why didn’t they submit their full report yet to the city comptroller’s office? I plan to invite DEP to come to the next civic meeting and address the residents — people need to know what is going on.”