Extensive record and comic book collections were among the priceless family heirlooms laid out to dry in Catherine Mangone’s front yard last week on 60th Drive in Maspeth.
The cause? Severe flooding in her basement from the record-breaking rainfall of Hurricane Ida.
“The water was up to our knees,” said Mangone. “There’s a sewer right in front of my house and directly across the street. At two in the morning, we’re watching this water and then suddenly the water was gone, like the sewer just opened up. They need to check on the sewer, it should have been able to take that water in.”
Mangone said that both her hot water heater and washing machine no longer work. She added that she’s lived in her home for 25 years and has never experienced this degree of damage.
Governor Kathy Hochul admitted the city was unprepared for the severe weather conditions.
“Where we have a vulnerability is in our streets,” she said during a press conference the day after the storm. “We haven’t experienced this before, but we should expect it the next time. That means we have to continue investments in infrastructure, working in partnership with the mayor and other officials to work collaboratively and get this done so we can take care of the drainage shortcomings in our streets.”
Not only did the water penetrate homes and highways, it made its way into the subway system. As a result, trains were shut down, leaving commuters stranded and forced to trek through dark tunnels and knee-high water in stations.
Hochul said President Joe Biden, who was set to visit Elmhurst on Tuesday to survey the damage for himself, guaranteed “any assistance the state of New York needs,” and that the next steps will be on-site assessments with FEMA teams to account for all of the damage.
As for homeowners like Mangone who faced significant damage, Hochul said she has directed the Department of Financial Services to get in contact with insurance providers to ensure they get reimbursed.
Borough President Donovan Richards encouraged homeowners to document all of the damage and file claims with the city’s comptroller, as well as their insurance companies.
Senator Chuck Schumer announced that homeowners will now be entitled to $34,000 in federal grants that don’t need to be repaid. He also spoke last week and emphasized the importance of acknowledging global warming and its harmful effects.
“When you get two record rainfalls in a week, it’s not just coincidence,” he said. “Global warming is upon us, and it’s going to get worse unless we do something about it. That’s why it’s so imperative to pass the infrastructure bill and the budget reconciliation bill.”
The city recently invested $2 billion for infrastructure in southeast Queens to improve the sewer system and drainage in several neighborhoods. Councilman I. Daneek Miller said it was not enough, as a mother and son were found dead in their 183rd Street apartment in Jamaica.
There were at least 13 deaths in New York, the majority of which resulted from flooded basements in Queens and Brooklyn.
“The loss of lives is unacceptable,” said Miller. “We absolutely have to make sure that we’re taking care of families. We’re here with you and we’re going to continue to be here with you.”