PHOTO: State Sen. Addabbo has asked the USACE to look into projects that may help alleviate the impact of future floods in area neighborhoods. File Photo
By Michael V. Cusenza
An exasperated elected official this week turned to the U.S. Army in the hopes of getting some answers to the flooding issues that have plagued many south Queens communities for so long.
State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requesting the division to look into projects that may help alleviate the impact of future floods in low-lying neighborhoods.
Parts of Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach, Lindenwood, Broad Channel, and Rockaway have recently been deluged with flooding not seen since Superstorm Sandy tore through the area in October 2012.
“The flooding that we saw last week, while unfortunately a norm for many residents in my district, highlights the need for some form of relief for homeowners in this part of the borough,” Addabbo said. “While I understand we can’t completely stop the flow of water, water levels have grown higher and higher over the years, turning residents into powerless victims who can do little, but to sit and watch their homes be flooded day after day. It is time for qualified, professional engineers to take a serious look at what can be done to help. Whether it be dredging or some other project that can help ease the flooding in these communities, something must be done to help protect the residents and their properties.”
Addabbo sent the missive to USACE New York District Project Manager Joe Olha, asking that possible solutions to frequent flooding be explored for the affected neighborhoods. Many residents in these communities have recently increased their calls to elected officials for action to be taken, such as dredging, to mitigate the flooding. Addabbo indicated that he’s seeking a number of short- and long-term resolutions to the flooding, he said, noting in his letter a future planned dredging to take place in the waterway extending from Jamaica Bay, the Hawtree Basin Canal, where dredging has not been done in decades.
“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers appreciates Senator Addabbo’s concerns and continued interest in this matter,” USACE spokesman Hector Mosley told The Forum on Wednesday. “The USACE operation and maintenance federal navigation channel upstream limit is reached before the Hawtree Basin Canal. The Hawtree Basin Canal is not an authorized federal navigation channel and the USACE is only authorized to dredge and maintain federal navigation channels.
“As for the communities of Howard Beach and Hamilton Beach in Queens, New York,” he continued, “the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has considered these communities to be within the East Rockaway Inlet to Rockaway Inlet and Jamaica Bay Reformulation Study. The USACE is expected to release the East Rockaway Inlet to Rockaway Inlet and Jamaica Bay Draft Reformulation Report to the public detailing the recommended flood risk reduction system by summer 2016.”