A Lindenwood resident filed the first complaint and summons against the city Department of Environmental Protection with hopes of receiving millions of dollars in reimbursement money since his house was flooded back in April.
The notorious Lindenwood flood of April 30 has become an ongoing saga in southern Queens, with residents hounding the DEP to issue a final report on the matter so city Comptroller Scott Stringer can help them collect reimbursement money from the incident. The process has dragged along slowly, drawing skepticism and ire from anxious flooding victims, including James Noto of 153rd Avenue.
Noto filed a claim with Stringer’s office back in May asking for $1,000,000 in compensatory damages and an additional $5,000,000 in punitive damages after his Lindenwood home fell victim to the devastating April 30 flood, which the DEP admitted was the result of a faulty sewer system. He then followed that claim with an Aug. 7 complaint and summons against the DEP filed in state Supreme Court with hopes of getting that reimbursement money sooner than later.
The agency released a statement in the weeks following the flood saying its Spring Creek Combined Sewer Overflow Retention Facility on Flatlands Avenue “did not function as intended” and reached capacity the night of the rainfall. The Spring Creek facility, which started service in the mid ‘70s, stores up to 20 million gallons of rainfall and wastewater and reached its limit April 30, along with the Ward and Jamaica Wastewater Treatment Plants on the same evening, the DEP said.
In the complaint, Noto said his home fell victim to 46 inches of floodwater, causing extensive and permanent damage to the inside and outside of his home because of the DEP’s “negligence, carelessness and recklessness.” The complaint accused the DEP of violating city rules and regulations by failing to maintain the Spring Creek facility and called on the agency to fully reimburse all damages to his home.
“As owners of the sewers located in the Lindenwood section of Howard Beach, Queens, [the DEP] owed a duty and responsibility to protect [Noto] and his home from the type of flooding that occurred after the rainstorm,” the complaint said.
Stringer’s office has been accepting claims since the flood, but that 90-day statute period came to an end July 28.
His office said it was sending inspectors out into the Lindenwood community over the last several weeks to evaluate homes and assess damages. The comptroller’s bureau of law and adjustment has given his office permission to move the claims reimbursement process instead of waiting for the DEP to deliver a final report on the flood.
Residents packed a flood prevention meeting back on July 9 in Lindenwood with hopes of hearing what the DEP was doing to reimburse them. There, DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd said residents told her they had not seen chronic flooding like they did in April after such a seemingly routine rainfall.
“We’re trying to understand a variety of things that are going on,” Lloyd said last month. “We’re looking at things we can do quickly, like green infrastructure, that won’t take a long time to construct.”
By Phil Corso