Photo provided by Jeanmarie Golden
Flooding in Golden's basement on May 5.

Heavy rains last week caused sewer backups in Whitestone that left a number of basements flooded with sewage — and homeowners in the neighborhood are demanding answers.

Dozens of residents living in homes along 10th Avenue between 152nd and 154th Street spent their weekend cleaning up sewage that poured into their homes through basement pipework, according to homeowner Jeanmarie Golden. Golden, who moved to the neighborhood with her husband just last December, said the flooding in her home began sometime between 11 a.m. and noon on May 5.

“Our basement is full of sewage, so we have to have it disinfected,” Golden said. “Since we just moved in December, a lot of our stuff was still in boxes. We had to throw a lot of it out.”

Since the end of February, the NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) has been working on a project to upgrade aging infrastructure and sanitary interceptor sewer pipes at the location. Affected residents, who say nothing like this has ever happened before, believe Friday’s sewage flooding is linked to the city agency’s infrastructure project.

The sewage situation took place at the same time as a substantial rainstorm, which brought significant flooding to the area. Still, when talking to longtime homeowners on the block, Golden said, not one said they’ve seen sewage flooding in their home like that before.


After residents on the block filed 311 complaints on Friday, Golden explained, the DDC arrived that afternoon. The city agency said they did not believe the flooding was linked to the project, but would update homeowners on Monday.

As of Monday afternoon, Golden said, residents have not heard back. The homeowner also said she saw contractors on the block packing up construction materials used for the project.

“Everyone was swamped,” said James Martino, a Whitestone resident of 20 years. “We pretty much live in the lowest part of the area; all of the sewage flows down towards us.”

Martino’s son, who lives in the basement area, lost most of his belongings in the flooding, including electronics, expensive clothing and his bed.

“He lost everything four inches and below,” Martino said. “Now, he has no room to sleep in.”

Photo provided by James Martino

Photos provided by James Martino

The homeowner also echoed Golden’s point that no amount of rainfall has ever resulted in such sewage flooding.

Martino said he and other residents on the block have spent hours discarding destroyed property and paying for cleanup out of pocket.


Now, Martino said, homeowners are concerned the sewage flooding will happen again and want to see that someone is held accountable.

“DDC blames the contractor; contractor tries to put the blame on city,” Martino said. “I want to make sure the city doesn’t let the contractor get away with this if they’re at fault; and if the city is responsible, they have to be responsible.”

In a statement to QNS, a spokesperson for the DDC attributed the sewage flooding to Friday’s rain storm.

“The re-lining of the sewer was completed earlier this month,” a spokesperson for the DDC said. “However, due to the high volume of rain on Friday, the stormwater capacity of the sewer system was exceeded, as it was in many areas of the city during Friday’s intense storms.”

“The sewer system is built to a specific capacity,” the spokesperson continued. “Friday’s rainfall exceeded the capacity of the system.”


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