Meng invites Forest Hills flooding victim to President Biden’s State of the Union address

Photo courtesy of Rep. Meng’s office

Bringing more attention to the need to combat excessive flooding in Queens, Rep. Grace Meng is inviting a Forest Hills resident impacted by flooding to be her guest for President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 9 p.m. 

In September 2021, unprecedented flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Ida devastated Queens. Lives were lost, and homes and property sustained extensive damage, and more rainfall over the past year caused additional flooding throughout the borough.

Allison Sesso is a longtime resident of Forest Hills whose house on Selfridge Street, which she had moved into two weeks before Ida struck, was severely flooded during the storm. Water filled her basement, and several feet gushed into the first floor. It destroyed much of her home’s interior, furniture, personal belongings and even a car, costing her well over $100,000 in damage.

“I am grateful for the diligent support of Congresswoman Meng,” said Sesso, who works in Queens where through a nonprofit, she helps low-income families eliminate staggering medical debt. “Queens residents need upgrades to our sewer systems that will prevent the loss of life, destruction of our homes, emotional anguish and financial uncertainty caused by increasingly common extreme rain events. I look forward to seeing progress on these needed infrastructure improvements.”

For Meng, stories like Sesso’s are heartbreaking, and it’s something that many others living in Queens were forced to endure during Ida and other storms. 

“After Ida, I visited affected constituents all across my district and saw the destruction firsthand. From tackling the impacts of climate change to upgrading local sewers and catch basins, this problem in our borough must be addressed, especially with the threat of more flooding in the future,” Meng said.  “Having Allison as my guest will help keep a light shining on this urgent issue and further underscore the need for our city, state and federal governments to take action. I thank Allison for accepting my invitation to attend and for sharing her harrowing ordeal.”

In Congress, Meng has worked to combat excessive flooding in Queens. After helping to pass the federal infrastructure bill into law in late 2021, she has constantly urged the city and state to provide Queens with a portion of the billions that New York received, particularly for improving sewers and catch basins so that they can handle rainfall produced by current storms.

In December, Biden signed her legislation into law that authorizes the Army Corps of Engineers — in coordination with the city of New York — to spend nearly $120 million on upgrading environmental infrastructure in the borough, which include projects to help improve water and wastewater infrastructure, stormwater management and combined sewer overflows.

Meng also joined the president when he visited Queens after Ida wreaked havoc on the borough.

Additionally, the congresswoman has urged the city to consider using millions in federal disaster funds to implement a voluntary buyout program for homes in Queens at risk of severe flooding during storms.