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Repeated Flooding Has Forest Hills Residents Livid

By Nigel Chiwaya | September 17, 2012 5:29pm

FOREST HILLS — When Simon Gouldstone moved into his new house on 68th Avenue and Juno Street in July, he had big plans for his basement, where he was going to build a music studio.

One month after he and his wife, Ashlee, moved into their new home, a rainstorm changed everything. The storm, which caused massive flooding in Forest Hills and shut down area highways, caused the Gouldstone's sewer system to overflow, sending sewage up through their basement toilet, sink and shower and flooding the basement in 10 inches of flith.

"It's not what you expect during your first month of homeownership," said Gouldstone, who lost his wedding albums in the flood and will have to spend over $5,000 on repairs.

Gouldstone's house was not the only one to suffer sewage backup. Several homes along 68th Avenue flooded during two powerful storms in July, and as a result the residents, who fear flooding will only continue as the area's rainstorms intensify, are demanding the city take action to prevent further damage.

"For this to happen repeatedly, it's a health hazard," said Rochelle Goren, 72, who lives down the street from Gouldstone. Goren said that the city promised action after the area flooded during strong storms five years ago, but nothing has been done.

"We don't want any more promises, we want action," Goren said, a day before yet another powerful storm is set to slam into the city.

The DEP has taken steps to alleviate flooding in Forest Hills, installing new sewer systems in several parts of the neighborhood.

However, 68th Avenue was not included in the renovations, and Goren wants the city to make fixing their sewers a priority.

"The mayor is worried about sugary drinks? This is more important."

City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz has scheduled a meeting with residents and the Department of Environmental Protection on Sept. 27 and sent a letter to DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland last month about the flooding.

"Over the years, flooding has become much worse in the district and constituents in these areas need immediate remedies," Koslowitz wrote.

Diane Paravazian, a professor at St. John's University, lost old school records when her basement flooded on the street. In addition, she had to spend $1,500 on a new hot water heater, which she had only just replaced in May.

"I'm in total despair," said Paravazian, who has to deal with soggy wooden stairs and walls in her basement and  "When do I get to fix this? I need to work."