Apr 27, 2012
By Amanda Mayo
“I never had a drop of water in my house until 2005. I walked downstairs and had 10 inches in my house, my house was practically destroyed,” a woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, lamented at a community forum held on Monday to discuss flooding problems in The Five Towns. “It cost me $42,000 to repair it.”
The forum, which was held at the Hewlett-Woodmere Public Library on Monday and was led by Nassau County Legislator Howard Kopel, was called to address the serious flooding problems that many Five Towns residents have seen over the last few years and to propose solutions to the problem. Eric Zausner from Nassau County’s Office of Emergency Management, Ken Arnold from the Nassau County Department of Public Works and Town of Hempstead Engineering Commissioner William Rockensies were also present at the forum.
Arnold announced a proposal to rebuild the water pump station that serves the Five Towns this summer, explaining that Nassau County’s pump stations cannot currently handle the amount of water that large storms may leave, pointing to the Hurricane Irene disaster this past August.
“We’ve got a very old system that was not designed for the types of flooding events that we’ve had,” Kopel said. “There has been little or no maintenance done over the last number of years, but that is being addressed now.”
Many of the forum’s attendees were speaking out of turn, heated up over the fact that they wanted a solution to the flooding problems, instead of paying high prices for repairs every time there is a rainstorm.
“What I can tell you,” Kopel said to an angered crowd, “Is that we’re going to do what’s possible to do.”
A number of residents from Ibsen Street in Woodmere attended the forum, having seen a lot of flooding damage to their homes and a flooded evacuation route after major rainstorms, notably Hurricane Irene this past summer.
“What good is the evacuation route if that’s going to get flooded?” A man in the audience asked. Adding that residents needed a solution, not just an evacuation route to cover up the problem when it arises.
“Dollars are very tight, as you know,” Kopel said. “We can’t build a new system, that’s not possible.” He added that the county is looking to improve the sewer pump system in the most affordable way possible within engineering constraints.
Residents asked where they should turn next, fearful that the next storm could be right around the corner. They were urged to contact the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management’s at (516) 573-0636 or the County Maintenance 24-hour hotline at (516) 571-6900.
“We’re trying our best,” Kopel said. “We are going to find the best solution possible.”
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