Recent coastal flooding in south Queens prompts calls to reduce flood risks

The Feb. 8 to 9 coastal storm that hit New York City brought flooding to Howard Beach and the Rockaways.
Photo via Facebook/Valerie Scafo Gunther

A recent storm that flooded low-lying streets in Howard Beach and other south Queens neighborhoods conjured up memories of Hurricane Sandy — and a renewed effort to resolve flooding issues in the area.

The Feb. 8 to 9 storm featured higher-than-normal high tides that waterlogged flood-prone streets in Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach, Broad Channel and the Rockaways. The damage wasn’t close to the severity of destruction that Hurricane Sandy brought in October 2012, but it was a reminder of the area’s vulnerability to coastal storms.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo announced on Monday that he sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consider other projects that would fortify flood-prone areas of south Queens. The Corps played an important role following Sandy in building double dunes on the Rockaway Peninsula and launching other projects to reduce flood risks, including the upcoming dredging of the Hawtree Basin Canal.

“While I understand that we can’t completely stop the flow of water, water levels have grown higher and higher over the years, turning residents into powerless victims who can do little but to sit and watch their homes be flooded day after day,” Addabbo said in a statement. “It is time for qualified, professional engineers to take a serious look at what can be done to help. Whether it be dredging or some other project that can help ease the flooding in these communities, something must be done to help protect the residents and their properties.”

With Addabbo seeking federal help, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder turned to the city to seek flooding solutions for south Queens. Last week, he called on the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) to review coastal infrastructure throughout the region and expedite projects including new stormwater valves at the reconstructed Rockaway seawall alongside Jamaica Bay.

Goldfeder cited concerns he heard from constituents that many catch basins and sewers in the area are clogged, which potentially contributed to the recent flooding problems.

“Coastal flooding is a fact of life for so many of our families in southern Queens and Rockaway,” Goldfeder said. “However, this doesn’t mean we can’t take steps to mitigate the risk. We deserve to know that our coastal infrastructure is up to the task and that planned upgrades are put in place without delay.”

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