South Jamaica Houses drown in sewage water

By Sadef Ali Kully

The New York City Housing Authority brought in a contractor Tuesday morning to sanitize the South Jamaica Houses community center and the apartment above after it was flooded Sunday evening with sewage water near 109th Avenue in south Jamaica.

Ebony Holmes, 33, said the sewage water started coming up around 6 p.m. Sunday so she made a complaint. Holmes said Monday the NYCHA maintenance crew “put a Band-aid on the problem late [Sunday] night.”

Then the sewage started backing up again and the stench settled outside the community center while NYCHA workers emptied out gallons of backed-up sewage water into the streets.

NYCHA said Holmes and her family have been relocated to a temporary apartment and property management will be reviewing additional transfer options. The housing agency also will provide the family and the community center with information on submitting damage claims.

NYCHA also said Holmes’ toilet was replaced Tuesday morning while a high-powered washer truck was deployed for additional cleaning of the sewer pipes. Enzymes, which break down grease that builds up in pipes causing blockages, were released into the system Wednesday as a long-term preventative maintenance measure.

For Holmes, who decided to take the complaint to Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica), this was the second time this had happened at her building at 109-04 160th St. Her apartment is above the community center.

“Last year, I dealt with this for seven whole days until they brought an outside contractor,” Holmes said. “I have two kids under 12 and there was mold and mildew left. Nobody cleaned up.”

Holmes was evicted after not paying rent due to the lack of maintenance. She fought through the court system and was given the same apartment with the same problems.

Wills, who was outside of the community center Monday, said the superintendent and maintenance staff arrived late.

NYCHA said it was conducting an internal review into the flooding after Wills’ complaint about the staff’s response.

Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skully@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.