‘A top priority’: President Biden signs Queens lawmaker’s bill to combat flooding in the borough into law

Photo courtesy of Rep. Meng’s office

As Queens has experienced its fair share of devastating extreme weather in recent years, from Superstorm Sandy to Hurricane Ida, a bill introduced by Congresswoman Grace Meng last year to help combat flooding in the borough was signed into law by President Biden on Tuesday, Jan. 17. 

The measure authorizes the Army Corps of Engineers — in working with New York City — to spend nearly $120 million on upgrading environmental infrastructure in the borough. These include projects to help improve water and wastewater infrastructure, stormwater management and combined sewer overflows.

The legislation was signed as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 7776), which is Congress’ annual defense spending bill. It was signed after passing the House and Senate in December. 

During Hurricane Ida in Sept. 2021, severe flooding wreaked havoc on Queens, hitting Meng’s congressional district especially hard. Thirteen people died in NYC, including six people in Flushing, Forest Hills and the Middle Village.

“Lives were lost and homes and property sustained extensive damage. In addition, our borough was impacted further over the past year by heavy rainfall that caused additional flooding in our communities,” said Meng, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, which provides funding to federal agencies and programs including the Army Corps of Engineers. “Addressing this problem has got to be a top priority, and the signing of my legislation into law brings us one step closer toward developing solutions and upgrading the infrastructure we need.” 

Meng’s legislation allows the Army Corps to spend the money to address the problem of flooding, and now that the measure has been enacted, Congress must allocate the funding for it so that the Corps can move forward with needed improvements. 

Senator Chuck Schumer, who worked with Meng to deliver federal support to improve flood protection and upgrade for the water and sewer systems, said they’re “another important step closer to improving water infrastructure and management to help combat future flooding.”