Around 10 p.m. on Sept. 1, residents on Astoria Park South stepped out of their beds and felt the water rushing in beneath their feet.
The rain from Hurricane Ida started earlier Wednesday, with more than half a foot falling in just the first few hours, and killing at least 28 people across three states, including at least 10 in Queens.
Frankie Recarte, the apartment building’s superintendent at 12-10 Astoria Park South, said he lost everything in a matter of 10 minutes as the water reached his waist. Recarte fled to higher levels of the building as the stairwell and lower levels flooded. In the early hours of the morning, when it was safer to exit the building, he and his wife went to a motel.
Recarte said he and his wife saved their money for so long to buy computers and furnish their apartment, but it was all gone in a matter of minutes.
“It’s like a nightmare,” Recarte said. “I couldn’t sleep last night. I slept a little bit, but I kept dreaming about this. You never think it’s going to happen to you. I don’t even want to be here. I’m going to cry.”
Recarte said that even when his apartment is eventually repaired, he won’t feel safe living there.
“I’ll be sad coming back here,” Recarte said. “I don’t know. Now I’m traumatized.”
Recarte and others described a chaotic scene Wednesday night as forceful water rushed through the doors and windows of the building.
One resident, Marlena, who declined to provide her last name, said she tried calling 911 multiple times, but no one ever came.
“ put us through to FDNY and they went ‘can’t help,’ and disconnected,” Marlena said.
Marlena lost everything. On top of that, she’s worried about how she will financially get by. Marlena is thousands of dollars in debt after paying for treatment for her dog that had cancer a few months ago.
“I don’t have extra money at the moment,” Marlena said. “All my childhood memories are gone, all my journals — gone,” Marlena said. “It’s the worst. My dog died in May and now I don’t have a home.”
Marlena said even though this is a devastating loss, she is grateful everyone in her building survived and came together to help each other.