New Dorp Beach Residents Suffer More Flooding in Wednesday's Storm

By Nicholas Rizzi on December 28, 2012 11:19am 

NEW DORP BEACH — Residents repairing homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy suffered a setback on Wednesday night, when a fierce winter storm flooded streets in New Dorp Beach.

Residents said waters reached to around two feet on Wednesday night, flooding their homes again. On Thursday, some water remained in the middle of Cuba Avenue, between Ina Street and New Dorp Lane.

“You get it fixed up, you go back, then the next storm, it’s going to be the same thing,” said Angela Calleja, 40, who has lived on the block for nine years. “This is just insanity."

Calleja recently finished getting new sheetrock installed in her basement, which was completely wiped out by Sandy, but Wednesday's storm waters seeped in through a crack in her foundation and reflooded the basement, she said.

Calleja said she asked both FEMA and her contractors if it was OK to start rebuilding in spite of the crack and was given the all clear to move forward

“I just had to have my whole basement re-sheet rocked,” Calleja said. “Now I have to have the whole thing ripped out again.”

Residents of the block said that flooding during rainstorms has been a problem for more than a decade, and they have asked the city numerous times to build storm sewers or do something else to prevent flooding.

“It’s just chronic. It goes on every year,” said Joe Piazza, 66, whose backyard was flooded by the storm this week. “I have to suffer this a couple of times a year. The following year, I'll have the same destruction.”

Piazza, who has lived on Cuba Avenue for 62 years, said he has petitioned the city for 15 years, asking for something to be done to stop the flooding.

The city recently added dry wells to the street, Piazza said, but it did little to stop the flooding from Wednesday's storm.

“They’ve left us all vulnerable,” Piazza said. “It’s irresponsible. We’re treated like a third-rate city.”

The Department of Environmental Protection has already purchased and built facilities on wetland areas around Staten Island to provide natural drainage for storm surges as part of its Bluebelt project.

In 2013, the DEP plans to break ground on their Mid-Island Bluebelt project, which will help reduce the chronic flooding of streets in New Dorp Beach, a DEP official said.

Piazza’s home was completely flooded during Sandy, and he hasn’t been able to move back in since. He was in the process of having his home re-sided when Wednesday’s storm flooded his entire backyard.

No water got into his home, but he had to have the water pumped out of his yard before workers could continue with the re-siding.

For Calleja, whose home sustained $29,800 worth of damage during Sandy, the flooding completely set back her rebuilding process.

She said she doesn’t have the money to redo the repairs in her basement, and she has already started the process of once again calling FEMA and her insurance company for help.

She said she’s debating moving out of the neighborhood because the flooding has been getting worse every year.

“It’s a bad cycle," she said, "very bad.”

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