US: No end in sight for hundreds of Queens families left homeless by sewage flood - - PressFrom - US

US No end in sight for hundreds of Queens families left homeless by sewage flood

00:20  02 december  2019
00:20  02 december  2019 Source:

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Residents of South Jamaica, Queens, did not have much to be thankful for on Sunday after a clogged water line caused hundreds of homes in the neighborhood to be flooded with raw, pungent sewage over the holiday weekend.

a fire truck is parked on the side of a road© Jeff Bachner for New York Daily News

Officials from the Department of Environmental Protection, which manages the city’s sewer system, told community members who were left homeless by the flooding feces that they did not know when the issue would be fixed.

“We are alive and okay but everything is gone,” said Sani Lakudi, 50, an Uber driver who lives in the neighborhood. “We stayed up all night pumping water. We had to do what we had to do or the water would have destroyed everything.”

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Streets were blocked off, including 133rd Ave. near Inwood St., as crews pumped water out of the blocked sewer to keep it from pouring back into nearby homes across the 15-square block area just north of Kennedy Airport and the Belt Parkway.

Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Edward Timbers said crews worked overnight to “pump around” a blockage in the neighborhood’s main sewer conduit near 150th St and Rockaway Blvd., which became so clogged on Saturday that it sent filthy water back into the basements of at least 80 homes.

a house with a fence in front of a building© Jeff Bachner

Timbers added that agency officials don’t know what caused the blockage.

“We don’t know when it will be fixed,” said Timbers. “People should contact their home insurance carrier. The DEP has been helping people fill out claim forms against the city.”

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Dozens of families were left homeless on Saturday night, and the nearby Public School 223 on Sutphin Blvd. was converted into a makeshift shelter for reeling residents.

Aracelia Cook, 61, who has lived in South Jamaica her whole life, said her home only got hit with a slight bit of sewage but her next door neighbors’ basements were inundated. She said more homes were flooded Sunday afternoon as a winter storm began to blast the neighborhood with freezing rain.

“There was a shelter set up at the school, but they didn’t put up the cots until midnight,” said Cook, a vice president of a local civic association. “People decided to sleep in their homes and cars instead because the cots weren’t set up yet. Ten people slept in hotels but they had to pay out of their own pockets for the hotel room.”

The city’s Office of Emergency Management held an emergency meeting at the school later in the afternoon — and officials initially denied entry to members of the press.

Dozens of residents were desperate to know when the water line would be fixed so they could begin repairing their homes.

“The whole house smells,” said Gamaliel Bravo, 59, a South Jamaica landlord and resident. “I got a big cleanup. My boiler and hot water heater are damaged. I have no heat.”

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