Archive for the tag 'severe weather'

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.

Photo by Erica Sherman

I’d wager a bet that I already know the answer many of our readers will give to the question posed in our headline. But Gotham Gazette is the one asking the question, and we thought we’d get in on the action.

The news outlet dispatched more than a dozen reporters to Manhattan’s Lower East Side and Brooklyn’s Red Hook earlier this month asking that question. It’s part of a larger report that includes a more comprehensive survey that will be released in a few weeks. They live-blogged the initial responses, and the answers were fairly diverse.

Some said they were still going through it. Others expressed concern that there’s little to do to reverse rising sea levels, though others still pointed out that they were somewhat comforted by the measures they’ve taken to be better prepared and minimize damage. Several expressed confidence in the government’s mitigation projects, while others didn’t seem to know a lick about them.

That’s the Lower East Side and Red Hook. What about Southern Brooklyn? Do you feel like we’re better positioned to withstand severe weather now than we were two years ago?

Let us know in the comments, and take Gotham Gazette’s survey.

Some of the damage in Sea Gate, at the tip of Coney Island, left by Sandy. Photo by Erica Sherman

Some of the damage in Sea Gate, at the tip of Coney Island, left by Sandy. Photo by Erica Sherman

The following is a message from the offices of Councilman Chaim Deutsch:

As the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy approaches, Council Member Chaim Deutsch is reuniting various first responders who were instrumental in assisting thousands of residents during Hurricane Sandy in affected neighborhoods throughout the 48th District.

Council Member Deutsch is organizing an event for his constituents that will offer training under the auspices of Office of Emergency Management (OEM) in crisis intervention, emergency response and disaster preparedness.

Participating in the kick off will be members of United Search & Rescue, Flatbush Shomrim Safety Patrol, Rockaway Safety Patrol, New York Rescue Response Team, East Flatbush Safety Patrol, volunteer establishments and community residents.

Council Member Deutsch is inviting members of the community who are interested in learning more about how to become a first responder for the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training to join him. The event takes place on Thursday, September 18th, at 7pm at the Shorefront Y located at 3300 Coney Island Avenue.

For more information please call the Council Member’s District Office at 718-368-9176.

We had quite the dramatic storm yesterday, chock full of sudden downpours, dramatic clouds and a hell of a thunder and lightning show.

Local videographer Bona Weiss filmed in time-lapse the menacing clouds as they rolled over his apartment, not far from Avenue Z and Ocean Avenue.

Pretty cool video, though we wish some of that lightning could have made a cameo. But cool nonetheless.

Photo by Randy Contello

Looks like it’s going to be a heck of a day, especially for anyone stuck working outside. Neighbors across Brooklyn are facing a double threat today, with the National Weather Service warning of both high temperatures and the threat of flooding.

With temperatures expected to hit the high 80s and the heat index pushing that further up into the mid-90s, the National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for all of New York City from noon today until 5:00 p.m. tonight. The conditions can be dangerous to health, and residents are advised to avoid strenuous activity. People without air conditioning, older adults and those with chronic health conditions are most at risk. Make sure to check on elderly or disabled neighbors. It does not appear that New York City has opened its cooling centers, and the Office of Emergency Management’s cooling center locator website is not currently activated. Libraries are always a safe bet for those in need of cooling off, though. The city also has these tips on staying cool.

And while we bake, we await the rain. All of New York City is under a Flash Flood Warning today through Friday morning. According to the National Weather Service:

A cold front will slowly move across the region today before departing late tonight through Friday morning. This front will interact with some tropical moisture streaming into the region from the south, resulting in periods of heavy rainfall. A total of one to three inches of rainfall is expected, with locally higher amounts. Thunderstorms will be possible, helping to enhance these rainfall totals.

Low-lying streets and roadways, and areas with poor drainage, could quickly fill with water. Residents are advised to clear out any drainage systems on their properties.

Remember, folks: check on your neighbors, and lend a hand where you can!

ClimateCentral.org built this map, predicting the risposed by storm surges of various heights. This shows a 10' surge.

ClimateCentral.org built this map, predicting the risk posed by storm surges of various heights. This shows a 10′ surge.

The National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA), the federal government’s weather sleuths, will soon launch storm surge warning maps to help highlight the specific areas vulnerable to flooding in advance of individual storm surges, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer announced yesterday.

Schumer’s office explains in a press release:

[B]eginning with the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season, NOAA’s National Hurricane Center (NHC) will issue the Potential Storm Surge Flooding Map for areas along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts at risk of storm surge from a tropical cyclone.  According to NOAA, the maps will highlight geographical areas where inundation from storm surge could occur and how high above ground the water could reach in those areas.  The maps will show inundation levels that have a ten percent chance of being exceeded and can therefore be thought of as representing a reasonable worst-case scenario.

Schumer had urged the creation of the maps – similar to those already made for tropical storms, hurricanes and tornadoes – in order to help convey surge predictions to local governments and emergency managers in advance of an expected storm.

Although the senator’s office said the maps were now available on NOAA’s website, we couldn’t find them. That might be because there’s no imminent threat of a storm surge, or because NOAA’s website is, itself, a haggard vortex of impenetrable jargon.

Fortunately, since we’re sure you clicked this link to look at maps that illustrate just how screwed you are in future storm surges, other people have made those. Like this one. Look at how screwed you are. Quite screwed.

(Note: We removed the embedded map because it sucks, but you can see how screwed you are – interactively – here.)

snow-shovel

It seems with every snowfall, more and more New Yorkers forget that it’s their responsibility to shovel their sidewalks and protect against slips and falls.

So we decided to put together this little post making clear what’s required of you, and a few extra tips to earn brownie points with the neighbors.

What’s required

  • Every owner, lessee, tenant, occupant or other person having charge of any lot or building must clean snow and or ice from the sidewalk.
  • Cleaning must be done within 4 hours after the snow has stopped falling.
  • If snow stops falling after 9:00 p.m., it must be cleared by 11:00 a.m. the following morning.
  • Snow may not be thrown into the street.
  • If snow becomes frozen or is too hard to remove, residents can uses ashes, sand, sawdust or similar materials within the same time limits.
  • The sidewalk must be cleaned as soon as the weather permits.

The fine for violating any of these rules is between $100 and $150 for the first offense, and as high as $350 for subsequent offenses, according to city notices.

What’s recommended

  • During heavy snowfall, clear your sidewalk before the snow stops falling. It’s courteous to neighbors who may still have to get around, and it will make the job easier for yourself at the end of the day.
  • Check on your neighbors. If you live next to an elderly or disabled person, lend a hand and shovel for them. Hey, they may make you an apple pie.
  • Avoid using salt unless absolutely necessary. It can damage the sidewalk, leading to costly repairs for you down the road. Use kitty litter or sand instead.
  • If someone does slip and fall, go and see if they’re okay. It’s sad that this needs to be pointed out, but many people just snicker and go on their way.
  • Cleaning up your dog’s poop is still legally required, even if it’s sitting in some snow. Don’t be a jerk.
A great photo by Roman Kruglov of the last snow storm to hit Sheepshead Bay.

A great photo by Roman Kruglov of the last snow storm to hit the area.

Was anyone else caught off guard by today’s snow? I mean, I knew it was going to snow, but I wasn’t prepared for the wall of white we woke up to today.

Here’s the rundown of what you need to know:

Weather conditions

As of right now, it appears there’s about three inches on the ground. It’s expected to hit between 5 and 8 inches throughout the day, and then turn into snow and freezing rain at night and into morning. The heaviest snowfall is expected to come between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

Currently, we’re under a winter storm warning until 7 p.m. tonight, when the warning eases up into a winter storm watch through the night and into morning.

The difference between a winter storm warning and a winter storm watch is that a warning means that a hazardous winter event is occurring and likely to pose a threat to life and property. A watch is less severe, and indicates that a significant weather event is expected, but not imminent.

The current warning covers all five boroughs, Nassau County and parts of New Jersey.

Road conditions

Because the snow began with a light rain mixture, and will finish off tonight with a freezing rain, streets and sidewalks will be slippery throughout the day, night and tomorrow.

Making matters worse, visibility is significantly reduced. So try to stay off the roads if you can, and if you can’t, drive slowly and with consideration for others on the road.

If you must drive, the city recommends using major roadways and highways as these will be plowed first.

Alternate side parking rules are suspended, but payment at parking meters remains in effect.

Pedestrian and public safety

Remember to shovel a path in front of your home, but avoid overexertion when shoveling, and stretch before you go out (a major cause of death in the winter is heart attacks caused by overexertion while shoveling).

Keep dry, and watch for signs of frostbite, which includes the loss of body heat and white or pale appearance in extremities.

Mass transit

As far as mass transit, the MTA is not reporting snow related delays or problems in the subway system, but says that buses are running on a delayed schedule. Customers are urged to walk, and not run on staircases or platforms and to hold on to handrails when boarding and alighting from buses.

Public schools and  garbage collection

Non-District 75 public high schools are closed for students but open for staff; all other public schools open. Field trips and after school programs have been canceled.

Useful links

Here are some links to keep track of local conditions and city service statuses.

Did we miss something you think is important? Have a question we didn’t answer? Let us know in the comments!

This was not yesterday’s snow. This was much worse.

When it snowed in the beginning of the month – the first challenge of the new de Blasio administration – we received a slew of e-mails, phone calls and social media comments claiming that the city was botching the job and streets remained unplowed.

When it snowed yesterday, we heard nary a peep from our readers.

On the surface it would seem that residents appeared more satisfied with the city’s response to yesterday’s snow than they had been to the previous winter storm. But the New York Post disagrees. On the front page of the paper today, an all-caps headline reads “SHAMBLES! Turmoil as Blas botches ‘early’ snow.” The story claims that the Sanitation Department was caught off guard because the snow fell earlier than predicted, and zeros in on “tony” Upper East Side residents who claim they were neglected because they didn’t vote for Bill de Blasio. At the core of that claim is the Sanitation Department’s plow tracker map, which showed that the neighborhood had not received timely plowing. The New York Post, being the New York Post, neglected to mention the huge swaths of the outerboroughs that showed the same thing. (The Sanitation Department claimed that it was due to a broken GPS, and the Upper East Side had indeed been plowed. That’s comforting, right?).

Here in Southern Brooklyn, major streets were plowed regularly and side streets less frequently, as is the routine. As anyone who put shovel to concrete yesterday knows, it took about five minutes for the snow to again completely blanket the sidewalk. On our little side street, we did see the plows running regularly, even if it didn’t make much of an impact, but we haven’t seen any salt spreaders which would be useful in ridding ourselves of that last two inches of impact snow on the asphalt.

So our take is this: we’ve seen worse snow, and we’ve seen worse management of the snow. It could be better – more regular plowing and some salt would be nice, as would enforcement of laws requiring homeowners and businesses clear their sidewalks.

What do you think? Where does the city’s snow management need improvement?

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This week’s polar vortex, in which temperatures with wind chills dipped into the negative degrees, generated its fair share of grousing on social media, and news hype. It also brought about some stunning photos from locals of iced over windows and ice drifts on New York Harbor.

But the best set we’ve seen yet are a bunch of stunning, and chilling, photos of Jamaica Bay frozen over like on big ice skating rink. Dan Mundy, of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers, whose Jamaica Bay photos we’ve featured before, struck out at sunrise to capture the beautiful and rare shots of the warm sun rising over the iced over Bay.

You can check out all the photos here, but we’ve selected our favorites to feature after the jump.

Check out the photos!

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