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Huge sinkhole swallows car in Maspeth, causes additional damage to nearby home

An unoccupied car in a sinkhole in Maspeth on Thursday, Nov. 26. (Photo courtesy of Wangi Sherpa)

A huge sinkhole swallowed up an unoccupied vehicle in Maspeth on Thursday, Nov. 26, and a nearby homeowner believes it caused his basement to flood.

Wangdi Sherpa owns the home next to where the sinkhole appeared on 70th Street. He told QNS he woke up at about 5 a.m. to find his brother Thupten Topjy’s Toyota sunken below the pavement.

“I was very surprised. It was very scary,” said Sherpa, who was grateful no one got hurt.

That day, the NYPD and FDNY departments responded by blocking 0ff the street and site safety. The Department of Environmental Protection and National Grid were also there to conduct an evaluation of the infrastructure.

The contractor began work to repair the street that day and was completed by approximately 5 p.m., according to Department of Design and Construction spokesperson Ian Michaels.

Photo courtesy of Wangi Sherpa

Local Councilman Robert Holden said the city needs to investigate the cause of the sinkhole.

“I have spoken today with the New York City Department of Design and Construction and they assured me that they will determine what happened and make sure the area is safe,” Holden wrote in a Facebook post on Friday. “Starting on Monday, they will assess the area using ground-penetrating radar and other methods. My office will post updates as they become available.”

Sinkholes are not uncommon in New York City. Michaels said they are still not sure what caused this sinkhole in particular, but it could be anything such as a leaking pipe between a water or sewer connection.

There is currently an extensive sewer project taking place in Maspeth, which Sherpa believes may have caused the sinkhole. Many residents have complained about external and internal damage to homes due to the major sewer projects in the neighborhood, such as the Calamus Avenue sewer project.

Michaels told QNS that they can’t immediately link the sewer project to the sinkhole, as they often occur where there is no construction taking place.

But Sherpa said his home has had some damages as a result of the sewer project. That same day, his basement flooded, which he attributes to the sinkhole, but he’s also noticed new cracks in his driveway.

Sherpa’s basement flooded on Thursday, Nov. 26. (Photo courtesy of Wangi Sherpa)
Sherpa believes the ongoing sewer project has caused damaged on his driveway. (Photo courtesy of Wangi Sherpa)

“It’s not only my house; my neighbor has the same problem,” said Sherpa. “His driveway is badly cracked too.”

Sherpa said he had to call 311 about two times to have the city address the flooding. He had temporary water delivered to his home until Monday, Nov. 30, and is now back to normal. He also said the city will also fix his brother’s vehicle.

Anyone who believes their property has been damaged as a result of city construction work can file a complaint with the City Comptroller’s office.

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