‘It broke the door in!’ Sunnyside residents recount terrifying night of flooding

A door to a basement residence was pulverized overnight, forcing occupants to flee. (Photo by Dean Moses)

On Thursday morning, Sept. 2, residents and business owners in Sunnyside began their cleanup efforts following flash floods spurred by the record-setting rainfall from the remnants of Hurricane Ida.

Many living in the outer borough were unable to travel to work since all trains, aside from the 7 line, remained out of service, and the commuters who did push forward were met with significant delays and overcrowding — especially when transferring at Grand Central Station.

Grand Central is gridlocked with human traffic due to delays. (Photo by Dean Moses)
Commuters hardly have elbow room. (Photo by Dean Moses)

Those who were left behind dug in, gripping mops, buckets and sandbags in order to help salvage businesses and homes throughout the neighborhood.

Laura Heim is an architect working out of a studio on Skillman Avenue. Her husband, Jeffrey Kroessler, decided to aid his wife with the cleanup after mass transit failed him.

“I got on the 7 train since there was no N train service into Manhattan. When I was waiting since the 1, 2 and 3 were screwed up, I was getting other trains to Columbus Circle, but Laura messaged me about the flood, so I just turned around back home,” Kroessler said. “It’s extraordinary, last night we had so much water coming in here.”

Even though Heim was spending the morning cleaning out the carnage, she was thankful her work was stored above ground.

Queens residents began the long cleanup. (Photo by Dean Moses)

“It’s a mess. Fortunately, I’m an architect so I had most of my documents wrapped in plastic protective seals, but the other stuff is just gone,” Heim said solemnly as she sifted through personal paintings and drawings. “I don’t know what the issue is; are the sewers not capable?”

While businesses owners attempted to reclaim their livelihoods, those dwelling beneath ground in the area were lucky to escape with their lives.

Ken Kurani was forced to flee his basement apartment overnight after his door was pulverized by excessive water. Clutching his pet cat, Kurani and his sister took shelter in their neighbor’s apartment, leaving behind their belongings to the flood. Almost everything they owned was damaged.

“It broke the door in,” Kurani said, pointing down at the waterline. “Around 8 o’clock, everything was fine, and then around 9 o’clock, we started noticing a little bit of water coming in and I decided to check the drain and use a trash can to scoop all the water out. It’s weird that the amount of water I was scooping out was less than what was coming in.”

Even by mid-morning Thursday, water still remained in the residence.

Kurani’s living room is ruined. (Photo by Dean Moses)

Kurani waded with Schneps Media through the deluge and pointed out his front door, which had been completely warped by the storm, and showed the irreparable items and furniture in his living room.

“Everything here was submerged in water. As it got higher, it lifted up the furniture. The refrigerator got lifted, all the beds, everything moved. A lot of our documents, photos and computer and electronics are gone. We lost everything, but at least we are still alive,” Kurani said.

The shared sentiment in Sunnyside was that of confusion and distress. Like many in the area, the owner of Tom’s Dry Cleaning and Alterations on 46th Street decried the sorry state of the city for allowing things to get this severe.

“The water from the street just came inside. The sewage is a big problem if they don’t clean it. The city has to clean. There is a lot of dirt clogging it, and the water builds up,” Tom said as a friend helped him clean.

“This time, this is too much,” Tom said, describing the sheer force of water, especially when cars drove by, sending waves coursing into his shop.

“It’s just too much,” Tom added, exasperated.

Kurani’s door was warped from the flood. (Photo by Dean Moses)