Archive for the tag 'missy haggerty'

Flooding on Lake Avenue (Photo by Missy Haggerty)

Flooding on Lake Avenue (Photo by Missy Haggerty)

While a rainy day for most of us is just a pain in the neck, it’s an absolute hazard in the Sheepshead Bay courts – the bungalow colonies lining the eastern end of Emmons Avenue.

The below-street-level communities, which date back about 100 years, have long been prone to flooding. Neighbors are getting fed up, today sending us photos and video to illustrate just how bad it is.

Today’s nor’easter was forecast to bring about three inches of rain to the area. But due to runoff from the streets, Lake Avenue – a court just east of Nostrand Avenue between Emmons Avenue and Shore Parkway – was four inches under water by noon, according to resident Missy Haggerty.

“Flooding always happens during heavy rains. So do the other six courts,” said Haggerty. “It has gotten worse since [Superstorm Sandy].”

The problem is that the streets – which are pedestrian only and approximately eight feet wide – is not that they are just below the city’s street level, it’s that there’s no real drainage to speak of. There are small drains peppered throughout the blocks, but they go down into a shallow dirt well. They were never connected to the city’s system when it was laid out in the first half of the 20th century, also when streets were raised.

Another Lake Avenue resident, Ellen Chang, filmed the flooding as she attempted to take her dog for a walk. Without rain boots, the walkways are positively dangerous and her pup – not a small dog at all – is submerged nearly up to his chest:

Cheng said in the video that she was never informed of the flooding issue when she bought the house 14 years ago.

“I didn’t know my house had flooding like this when there’s heavy rain. All the neighbors are suffering,” she said.

Cheng and other neighbors are calling on the city to construct proper drainage connected to the city’s sewer system.

“I pay taxes. I have a right to a sewer system, and the government didn’t do anything,” she said.

“All we need is to just dig a sewer connection to Emmons Avenue sewer system. That won’t cost the city a lot of money,” she added by e-mail.

The problem is that the city considers these streets private – a justification they’ve also given for not replacing worn out street signs in the area – and in the past has claimed that residents need to band together and pay for it themselves.

The unique layout of the courts has also caused Sandy recovery issues. Build it Back chief Amy Peterson said at a Sheepshead Bay – Plumb Beach Civic Association meeting last week that the narrow streets, lack of vehicle access and close proximity of houses is causing delays in the construction process, and leading the agency to explore a neighborhood-wide approach.

We’ll be pinging city agencies to see if they have an approach in mind to address the ongoing flooding concern, and will update you when we hear back.

We received the above photo from Missy Haggerty, the Lake Avenue resident who helped lead dozens of neighbors to safety out of the flooded corridor during Superstorm Sandy.

Missy tells us the bungalow courts remain underwater even as most of the water from this morning’s flash floods have receded elsewhere. The courts are below street level, and the drains – which, we’re told, are not connected to city sewer lines – were still clogged from Sandy, causing all the water to back up.

Residents are using pumps to get the water out now, and we’re told by a rep in Councilman Lew Fidler’s office that they’re working to get the Department of Environmental Protection on scene to help pump the water out of the alleyways.

20130418-dsc_0066

The Bay Improvement Group boogied down and gave props up last Thursday night at their annual Oscars gala, when it celebrated a pack of heroes who went above and beyond to help neighbors during Superstorm Sandy.

Learn about the honorees, and view photos from the event.

The only entrance to Lake Avenue became impassable once water started tumbling down from Emmons Avenue, and debris littered the alleyway.

There is no shortage of heroes that came out of the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, but it seems everyone on Lake Avenue agrees that two quick thinking residents of their bungalow colony and a nearby landlord are their first first responders.

The Nostrand Avenue condo building where Lake Avenue residents found refuge from the flood.

One of several Lake Avenue buildings that are now deemed uninhabitable by the Department of Buildings.

When flood waters breached the bulkhead of Sheepshead Bay and engulfed Emmons Avenue, it advanced forward, rushing into the bungalow colony alleys located below street level. With no drainage systems, approximately 60 residents of Lake Avenue – just off Nostrand Avenue and Emmons Avenue – realized their one-story bungalows were about to be submerged.

“All of a sudden the water started pouring into the house. My 94-year-old father and I live in the house together,” said Lake Avenue resident Wendy Mitchell.

That’s when neighbors Missy Haggerty and Peter McCandless rushed out of their homes and began banging on doors, telling people to get out. Some were sleeping or in the middle of eating dinner, and looked up the block to see a waterfall rushing down the steps into the colony’s dead end alley.

“I got out and I’m trying to hold the door open [for my 94-year-old father] and Peter got him out finally,” Mitchell said. “When we first left, the water was up to the knees. By the time we got about five houses down it was under my arms. I’m five-foot-five and it was under my arms.”

Mitchell said she never would have been able to get out of there if it weren’t for Missy and Peter – and the landlord of a nearby building that abuts the alley.

Continue Reading »