Residents of East Elmhurst, Astoria and Jackson Heights will be meeting with government officials on Feb. 1 to discuss the long-standing issue of sewer backups and flooding in their respective neighborhoods.
The issue has been especially problematic in recent years, given the extreme weather. For instance, Hurricane Ida in 2021 and the tropical storm Ophelia, which hit the city on Sept. 29, 2023, caused thousands of dollars of damage to homes, loss of personal property and anguish for the people affected.
The meeting has been organized by local resident Nabil Jamaleddine and the Queens Borough President’s Office and is open to the members of the public who live in the neighborhood to attend.
The borough president’s office said this meeting is to discuss flooding issues specifically on 77th Street in northern Jackson Heights/East Elmhurst. The meeting will feature a presentation from DEP on the mains that service that block, as well as adding green infrastructure.
Jamaleddine said he felt compelled to set up the meeting and advocate for this issue after the basement in his home was flooded as a result of Hurricane Ida three years ago. He said that he has lived in the area of East Elmhurst since 2017 and in that time his home has been damaged by four floods, three of which occurred in 2023 alone.
He also set up a petition, which is addressed to New York City Mayor Eric Adams, City Council members Shekar Krishnan and Tiffany Cabán and Commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection Rohit. T Aggarwala, to address the situation.
“I’ve been working with the neighborhood to advocate for further investment in green infrastructure, enhancements to the city owned sewer system, maintenance of existing infrastructure (catch basins, rain gardens, etc.), and incentives for homeowners to implement flood prevention measures in their homes,” he said.
The meeting will discuss the goals of the petition to prevent sewer backup through cleanup of the city sewer mains, cleanup of all catch basins and rain gardens, increased capacity for the sewer mains in East Elmhurst and incentivization for flood prevention measures that divert storm water away from the sewer.
Jamaleddine said that he hopes these different goals will all be completed within the next five years. The online petition is hoping for 200 signatures and currently has 148 as of press time.
Locals will be meeting with the officials that the petition is directed to, and the office of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Queens Borough President’s Office, Office of Jessica Ramos NYS Senate, Office of Jessica González-Rojas NYS Assembly, Queens Community Board, and the U.S. Small Business Administration to discuss the matter.
The neighborhood meeting will take place at 6pm at the Lexington School for the Deaf located at 25-26 75th St, East Elmhurst on February 1.