December 20, 2022

Queens, NY –  On Friday, December 16,  Council Member Julie Won invited Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Rohit Aggarwala and his team to discuss long term flooding resiliency strategies and to visit multiple flood zones in Woodside and Sunnyside. Last year these areas in our district experienced severe flooding during hurricane Ida that proved fatal when water overwhelmed basements apartments in the affected area. As storms are expected to become more severe as climate change worsens, we must ensure that the city provides the resources and infrastructure necessary to maintain our vibrant communities.

Council Member Won and her team connected the Commissioner, engineers, and the DEP team to local residents and business owners to better understand what happens during heavy storms. To prepare for the walk through of the district, on December 13 the Council Member Won and her team met with DEP leadership at the DEP command center to get updates on the work being done in high flood areas as well as updates on current capital projects in District 26. Council Member Won’s team also flagged additional flooding hotspots and other DEP-related issues that our constituents regularly reach out about.

Council Member Won and DEP mapped out short-term and long term solutions for the district’s neighborhoods that include cleaning out catch basins and sewer lines, as well as longer term infrastructure investments over the next few years.

Here are updates on DEP projects completed this year from our advocacy: 

  • In June 2022, DEP repaired the road on Northern Blvd and 42nd Street near Food Bazaar to prevent severe flooding and ponding in the area. 
  • In October 2022, DEP completed flushing and vactoring on Woodside Houses sewers. 
  • DEP is completing water main work on the roads/sidewalks at Queensbridge Houses to prevent further water main breaks that constituents have experienced over the year.

DEP began implementing a schedule to completely flush and vactor catch basins throughout District 26, with some hot spots on track to receive deep clearing twice a year. 

Council Member Won’s team and DEP visited the following businesses, residences, and places of worship on the December 16 walkthrough: 

  1. Kabayan Restaurant in Little Manila: The restaurants along the Roosevelt Ave business corridor flood during heavy rainfall. DEP will investigate the cause of the flooding and provide long term solutions so that the small businesses can stay open during severe rainstorms.
  2. 38th Ave from Woodside Ave to 54th St: This area experiences flooding when rainfall travels from the LIRR to the sidewalks into residential private property. CM Won and DEP met with  neighbors and discussed long-term infrastructural needs to help prevent flooding. CM Won will be working closely with DEP and DOT to ensure that the ponding in 54th St is reduced.
  3. Phipps Garden Apartments: CM Won and DEP saw flooding in the courtyard due to longtime neglect from the landlord. During severe weather events, residents experience flood water and sewage going into their apartments. The landscaping needs to be maintained to avoid ponding in the courtyard and the outdated plumbing in the old buildings must be updated by the landlord. DEP will do an inspection to determine the cause of repeated flooding.
  4. Skillman Ave Houses: CM Won and DEP met with homeowners in Sunnyside who reported flooding in their basement when it rains. DEP completed a capital project to update the sewer system on the block in 2017. DEP also said that they will perform a video inspection to determine what is causing the flooding inside homes, and will look into the sewage flow and check to see what infrastructure changes can be made, including cleaning out catch basins and sewers.
  5. Sunnyside Reform Church and Ar-Rahman Mosque: CM Won and DEP met with religious leaders who have been experiencing continuous flooding since Hurricane Ida. Here, DEP will clear out the sewers and provide long-term maintenance work to ensure that water flows under the streets and away from residential areas and places of worship.

Council Member Won’s team will follow up on all of the issues discussed to ensure that neighbors, businesses, and places of worship are kept safe from flooding. Anyone experiencing repeated flooding should report to 311 and contact Council Member Won’s office at 718-383-9566 or District26@council.nyc.gov. 

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