Sandy-Damaged Ocean Breeze Residents Demand Storm Sewers
OCEAN BREEZE — In the tiny, beachfront Ocean Breeze neighborhood, where masses of homes are still vacant or destroyed after Hurricane Sandy, a civic group is demanding the city provide them the same storm-abatement as their neighbors — storm sewers.
While members said their main priority is to get people back in their homes, they worry that new flooding will continue to damage homes they worked so hard to rebuild.
“Why should we have to come home to newly built homes to worry about [flooding]?” said Frank Moszcznyski, a member of the Ocean Breeze Civic Association. “It’s horrendous and no community should have to face that.”
The Ocean Breeze Civic Association has been in talks for months with the Department of Environmental Protection to install storm sewers around their neighborhood, but to no avail.
“Almost a year later, there's still no answers, there are no solutions,” said Jean Laurie, president of the organization. “We feel like everything’s being kicked down the road a bit.”
The area, which is near Liberty and Quincy avenues, has no storm sewers because it saw a population boom years ago that had residents moving in faster than the infrastructure could be put in, a spokesman for the DEP said.
Residents said that without the sewers, any medium rain storm can cause flooding.
The majority of neighborhoods in the borough have storm sewers, but there aren't any current plans to install them in places without them like Ocean Breeze, the DEP said.
The DEP said it is focusing on the Bluebelt program to help curb flooding in neighborhoods without sewers.
The Bluebelt program will preserve natural drainage corridors to store, convey and filter storm water, according to the DEP.
But residents said the Bluebelt, which is in the process of acquiring land, would come way too late.
“It could take up to 10 years,” Moszcznyski said. “That doesn’t help us anytime soon.”
The Bluebelt's Environmental Impact Statement for the Mid-Island is currently being completed, and the city plans to put the first phase of construction out for bids by the end of the year, the DEP said. They plan to start the first phase by the summer of 2014.
During Sandy, Ocean Breeze was inundated with flood waters and many of the lower homes were completely underwater during the storm.
Nearly 23 of the homes in the several block neighborhood had to be demolished after the storm, and Laurie said it’s been a struggle to rebuild.
“It’s a rough situation,” Laurie said.