Queens congresswoman commemorates anniversary of Hurricane Ida, visits homes of Queens victims

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng and state Senator Michael Gianaris placing flowers at the doorstep of a victim’s residence. (Photo courtesy of Meng’s office)

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng visited the homes of Hurricane Ida victims Thursday, Sept. 2, to commemorate the first anniversary of the storm that took the lives of nearly a dozen Queens neighbors.

An emotional embrace on 183rd Street in Jamaica, where a 43-year-old mother and her 22-year-old son were found dead. (Photo by Lloyd Mitchell)

Among the homes Meng visited were those of the Lama family in Woodside, Yue Lian Chen in Elmhurst, Darlene Hsu in Forest Hills and Hong Sheng Leng in Flushing.

Meng also spoke at Gov. Kathy Hochul’s press conference, highlighting the efforts she’s made over the last year to protect her constituents from future extreme weather.

“In [Hurricane Ida’s] wake, the storm left residents across the city with billions in damage,” Meng said. “Queens was one of the hardest hit boroughs and my district tragically lost six constituents. The aftermath of the storm will be felt in our community for years to come.”

Meng spoke at Gov. Kathy Hochul’s press conference in Corona yesterday, mentioning that in the past year, numerous steps have been taken to ensure New York City residents never suffer the same fate again.

“I have worked on the federal level, in conjunction with my state colleagues and alongside local officials to get Queens and New York City residents the funds and assistance they needed immediately after the storm and in the months since,” Meng said. “While we have done a lot to help the community return to its prosperous state before the storm, there is still much more to be done.”

Damage in an Astoria basement apartment. (Photo by Julia Moro)

Immediately after the hurricane hit, Meng helped launch a Disaster Recovery Center to provide essential daily resources for residents. She also helped secure over $11 billion in disaster relief for New York City from the federal government.

In the time between Hurricane Ida hitting New York City and the one-year anniversary, Meng has helped to pass both the $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure bill and the Water Resources Development Act in the House.

Congresswoman Grace Meng surveys trash piles in Fresh Meadows following Hurricane Ida last year. (Photo courtesy of Meng’s office)

The Water Resources Development Bill would authorize the Army Corps of Engineers to spend almost $120 million for infrastructure upgrades in Queens. However, Meng has repeatedly called on the city and state to allocate part of the infrastructure bill funding for additional upgrades in the most affected areas in the district.

She notes that many of the district’s sewers, catch basin, rain and flooding overflow systems haven’t been upgraded in decades.

The congresswoman wasn’t the only notable New York City politician to speak about the lasting effects of Hurricane Ida on its first anniversary. New York City Mayor Eric Adams spoke at South Ozone Park, unveiling new measures taken in the area to help mitigate flooding from any future storms.

Mayor Eric Adams announced Thursday that the city will be planting 2,300 garden waterways throughout the borough of Queens (photo courtesy of Lloyd Mitchell).

Adams marked the anniversary of Hurricane Ida hitting New York City by announcing the addition of 2,300 absorbent rain gardens, which will bring the city’s total to 11,000. These gardens are designed to capture stormwater running off of hard surfaces before it overwhelms the city’s sewer system.

Elected officials look on as the stormwater system is demonstrated. (Photo courtesy of Lloyd Mitchell)

“These rain gardens are more than just plantings, they are a strong defense against flash flooding,” Adams said. “Each rain garden has a capacity of holding up to 2,500 gallons of water during a storm. These are strategically located in areas where we know historically we’ve had flooding. And this is an attempt to mitigate the overburden of our sewer systems.”

Hurricane Ida left 13 New York City residents dead and several neighborhoods severely damaged. Record-breaking rainfall of up to 3.15 inches overwhelmed the city’s sewers, which weren’t equipped to handle more than two inches.