Archive for the tag '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.

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.)

WTF, Weather?


weather

A streak of beautiful, if wet, weather saw flowers bloom over the past weeks, only to be crushed and killed – like our spirits – by a frost this morning.

It’s like the brutal, long winter wanted to give us one final kick in the rear on its way out.

Discuss.

kingshighway

Oh boy, it was windy out yesterday. How windy was it? Windy enough to rip down the signage of this closed store on Kings Highway and East 16th Street.

Submitted by Abraham V.

Oh, and we’ll have more about this building later. Hint, hint…

fallingtrees

A neighbor living near Bedford Avenue and Avenue V woke to this scene today. A tree limb that weighs several hundred pounds had tumbled down from where it had loomed over his car when he parked the night before. He was lucky – it was a light grazing, and he called police to file a report, according to our tipster Marina K.

It’s a scene we see all over the neighborhood when winds are strong. And they’re pretty strong right now; in fact, we’re currently under a National Weather Service advisory warning of strong, gusty winds reaching up to 50 miles per hour. The advisory lasts until 6:00 p.m. today.

The problem is worse in the flood zone, where the salty waters or Superstorm Sandy have dried up root systems and weakened trees. We’ve seen precarious conditions on, and received lots of complaints about, tree-lined blocks in Manhattan Beach, Plumb Beach and Sheepshead Bay.

Be careful out there. Keep your eyes on the tree line, and try not to park under larger limbs. If you do, make sure to check on your car well before you have to go to work – you might find yourself calling in late to deal with the aftermath.

Councilman Mark Treyger is pushing new legislation that would require snow plows to have flashing lights and a make beeping noises, following the plow-related deaths of two Brooklynites this winter.

The two victims were killed by plows within two weeks of each other. On February 3, an elderly man was struck and killed by a plow in Brighton Beach in front of the Oceana complex. On February 13, a pregnant 36-year-old woman was killed by a plow clearing out the parking lot of a Borough Park market.

Treyger’s bill, first reported on by the Daily News, will require plows to have lights and “a loud, distinctive noise” to let pedestrians know when a plow is approaching.

“You’re dealing with low visibility,” he told the paper. “If we can buy a few seconds for these pedestrians to give them time to react, this could save a life.”

The new regulations, however, would not have prevented the two deaths cited. Both were killed by private CAT-style vehicles repurposed for snow removal. Treyger’s bill only affects Department of Sanitation snow plows, and other plows contracted by the city.

The new rules might have helped the man who was knocked off his feet by a tsunami of snow created by a speeding Sanitation truck in February. The man, walking on Coney Island Avenue, was knocked down and injured by a wave of snow that also broke the windows of a nearby storefront, and he is now mulling a lawsuit against the city. He said he never saw the truck coming.

UPDATE (March 28, 2014): Councilman Treyger’s office got in touch to note an error int he Daily News version. In actuality, there are two bills on the table, extending this new regulation to privately-operated plows as well. See the statement below:

Councilman Mark Treyger (D – Coney Island, Bensonhurst, Seagate, Gravesend) announces new legislation to require all vehicles engaged in the removal of snow on roads, sidewalks, parking lots, and pedestrian walkways to be outfitted with flashing lights and audible warning systems. This legislation, which follows the recent deaths of three pedestrians who were stuck and killed by snowplows in Brooklyn, would apply to plows operated by the City of New York and privately owned plows.

“Snowplows are vehicles we deploy during times of emergency” asserts Treyger. “We should be treating them like emergency vehicles. Furthermore, during a snowstorm, you’re dealing with low visibility and it is easy for pedestrians to be blindsided. This is precisely what happened to Min Lin, a pregnant mother, who was killed in Sunset Park this past winter. Anything we can do to buy a few seconds forpedestrians and give them time to react could save lives. The state of Ohio has already passed a similar bill and it’s high time New York City caught up on this important issue.”

After a 23-day suspension, alternate side parking is now back in effect.

Alternate side parking regulations are now reinstated citywide as of Monday, February 24. Payment at parking meters will also be in effect throughout the city.

The regulations had been suspended since January 31 because of snow and ice, and to keep people from having to move their cars for street cleaning. It was an appreciated break by motorists, who would’ve been hard pressed to find new parking spaces with mountains of snow taking up spots.

The 23-day suspension is going near the top of the list for longest suspensions in the city’s history. The top slot stays with the Koch Administration, when alternate side parking was suspended for 62 consecutive days in 1978. And after the September 11th attacks, Manhattan did without alternate side parking for 30 days, while the rest of the city saw a 22-day suspension, the Daily News notes.

The paper also calculates that there have been 41 days out of a total of 54 days in 2014 that have seen the rules suspended.

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