City to help southeast Queens homeowners clean and sanitize following massive sewage backup

Photo by Carlotta Mohamed/QNS

Following a massive sewer backup that flooded homes in southeast Queens this past weekend, City Comptroller Scott Stringer on Monday visited impacted homeowners seeking assistance at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel. 

Distraught homeowners patiently waited in line at the service center, located downstairs in the Courtyard Marriott, at 145-11 North Conduit Ave. in Jamaica, to fill out a notice of claim from the Comptroller’s Office in order to be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses. 

Stringer speaks with a homeowner impacted by the flood. (Photo by Carlotta Mohamed)

“My heart goes out to all who have been impacted by this sewage backup. To expedite cleanup and removal, we have granted emergency procurement authority to the city,” Stringer said. “DEP and my office will be investigating the cause of this sewer backup. As the cause of the incident is investigated, I urge impacted homeowners to file a notice of claim with my office within 90 days of the incident and to contact their insurance companies immediately.”

Following the incident, residents say the city’s response in providing emergency services has been “quite slow.” 

After making numerous calls to 311 and filing a complaint, homeowner Narendra Singh purchased his own equipment to pump the raw sewage in his basement, he said. 

“I got help last night from DEP to pump water. I don’t have no heat and no water and am helping myself out now,” said Singh, before he went to file a notice of claim. “This is a disaster with 2 feet of water that has damaged my brand-new boiler and everything else down there.”

Homeowner Bina Balgobin was forced to leave her home due to the unbearable stench. 

“We were sleeping in the car because they said they were going to send us to Astoria, and we didn’t go because that’s too far,” Balgobin said. “It’s been crazy with that stinky smell and the flooding in the basement. The boiler was broken and we fixed it. It was almost between 2 and 3 feet of water in the basement. We needed at least seven pumps to get rid of the water.”

Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) workers have been on-site pumping raw sewage from the affected homes. (Photo by Carlotta)

Meanwhile, Mayor Bill de Blasio visited the site this afternoon to assess the damage and updates on repairs while meeting with a homeowner. While repairs are ongoing, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and NYC Emergency Management are ensuring that homeowners receive services they need. 

The Department of Small Business Services is working with Emergency Management on the effort, and cleaning is expected to begin tonight. The city noted that drinking water remains safe and unaffected. 

“I feel for the homeowners in Queens who were affected by the sewage blockage this weekend,” de Blasio said. “We are implementing the emergency procurement process to ensure that homes are cleaned quickly, and we are going to work with each and every New Yorker who experienced flooding to make sure they get back on their feet.”

To date, the city has confirmed that 74 homes were affected by flooding. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has installed a bypass pump to assist with flooding while repairs to the sewage line are ongoing and additional equipment is brought into the area. 

The New York City Emergency Management and the FDNY are bringing in portable heaters for those whose boilers were affected, and has set-up emergency resources in the area to immediately respond to any emergencies.