Categorized | Featured, Former Featured

Northern Bronx hopes for flood relief

By April Warren and Clara Martinez Turco

For the last 14 years, Jason De Jesus, director of the East End Funeral Home on Gun Hill Road has witnessed the same scene every time Mother Nature pays a visit to the Bronx.

“The corner of Holland Avenue and 211th St. gets flooded as often as it rains or snows,” he said from behind his desk.  He often sees pedestrians jumping over puddles to cross the street, but phone calls to the city have been unresponsive.

Now the dispute has become more personal.  The basement of the funeral parlor started to flood eight weeks ago, putting his equipment in jeopardy.

Spring means the return of rain to New York City, as this downpour shot earlier this season in Kingsbridge shows.But in some other neighborhoods in the Northern Bronx, that can mean flooded streets and basements. Photo by Ethan Frogget

“They said it was going to take four to six weeks [to repair], it has been eight weeks,” De Jesus said.  City officials have not linked the water to flooding troubles.  In the interim, the staff of the funeral home has been pumping out the water themselves, not doing so would result in two feet of water.

His situation is echoed across town on Pitman Avenue at Grace International Ministries, Inc.  “It has been going on for a while,” said Pastor Leroy S. Carridice, who also says the city has been unresponsive. “Usually we solve the situation ourselves.”

But the city has been at work on the problem since 2006, working on a two-phase capital construction project that seeks to dispel excess floodwaters from Baychester to Wakefield.

Across the city, average rainfall has climbed 10 percent, or more than four inches per year, in the last century, according to New York City Department of Environmental Protection website.  The area also could see a future increase in the frequency of intense storms, according to climate projections.

But with the passing of President Obama’s stimulus package, which gives $7 billion to New York State – third only to California and Texas – the city is pumping money into catch basins, curbs and sewer pipelines to provide relief for submerged streets.  One of those streets is Pauling Avenue in the Bronx, a main thoroughfare where the community board members hope the work being doe will make flooding less fo a problem in areas such as Pittman, Bruner, Bronxwood and Steenwich Avenues.

“The project’s roadway and sidewalk upgrades will alleviate any flooding or ponding conditions within those streets, avenues and corners,” said Angel Roman, deputy press secretary for New York City Environmental Protection.

Phase one of the project took three years, and was completed in Fall 2009. The  $38.58 million project installed catch basins, water mains, curbs, sidewalks, hydrants and other roadwork to alleviate the problems.

Although the project is several blocks away from some of the continuously flooded areas, the construction should alleviate flooding in the entire area.

“It would alleviate some of the flooding going on in those areas because now you will have catch basins which will stop the flowing of excess storm water,” said Carmen Rosa, the district manager for the Bronx’s Community Board 12.

Rosa urged residents who haven’t seen any relief to be patient until the full project is completed.   “And there may be something that have to be added after that,” Rosa said, explaining it’s a working solution, but at least the city is on its way to providing some relief.

Phase two of the project is projected to end in 2012.

But Pastor Carridice does not keep his hopes high. He compares the flooding to a pothole that has been on his street for months. “I’ve called the city many times, but the pothole is still there,” he said.  He doesn’t expect the flooding to stop any time soon, either.

Below is an interactive map detailing some of the more troublesome areas of Community Board 12.  Each point on the map corresponds with a description of what is being done to alleviate flooding in the area.
View Community Board 12 – Where the Floods Happen in a larger map

Leave a Reply