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New York City activates flash flood emergency plan with heavy rain expected

<i>WCBS</i><br/>New York City is preparing for more rain one week after historic flooding slammed the area. People in parts of Queens who have barely dried out from that storm are saying
New York City is preparing for more rain one week after historic flooding slammed the area. People in parts of Queens who have barely dried out from that storm are saying

By Jennifer Bisram, Kristie Keleshian

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    NEW YORK (WCBS) — New York City is preparing for more rain one week after historic flooding slammed the area.

People in parts of Queens who have barely dried out from that storm are saying, “Not again.”

Multiple city agencies held a joint press conference Friday afternoon. Officials said recent weather events are proof that climate change is here, but they say they’re ready for the next rain storm and New Yorkers should be, too.

“Last Friday, my basement is flooded, flooded,” Springfield Gardens resident Paulette Boswell said.

One week after heavy rain and flash flooding inundated city streets and basements, Boswell is still pumping water out of her home. Mayor Eric Adams even stopped by to see the damage earlier this week while visiting areas affected by the storm.

“I came just to get an extra pump, just in case that one burn out because I don’t know how long it will run. Because if it burns out, my whole entire basement is gonna flood again,” Boswell said.

The Queens borough president’s office handed out dozens of pumps and flood barriers to families in need Friday as more rain is expected to hit the Tri-State Area this weekend.

“We wanted to make that we could get some flood barriers and sub pumps into the neighborhood for those most in urgent need,” said Katherine Brezler, special advisor to the Queens borough president.

Michael Ferraro says the sewer drains in his Flushing neighborhood need to be fixed.

“I’m getting all the supplies I need to make sure the house is extra safe,” he said.

Rajani Thapa in Woodside said she was unaware of Friday’s giveaway, so her only defense is a pile of clothes, an old mattress and blankets.

“‘Cause I don’t have even sand or bags or something right now,” she said.

The flood line from last weekend can still be seen on her floor.

In Woodside, a resident named Barbara says she’s left sandbags outside of her home for the past two years because there’s only so much she can do in the flood-prone area.

“What could I do? I have sand all over there. I even put sand over there. On the steps, I’m gonna put it on the steps. So what else I could do?” she said.

Still, 3 feet of water made it into her basement during last weekend’s storms.

As New Yorkers brace for more potential flooding, some elected officials are criticizing the mayor for a lack of communication before last week’s downpour. The comptroller has launched an investigation into the flood response.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams is pushing for a color-coded tier response system for weather, similar to the COVID-19 response system the city used during the peak of the pandemic.

“With the communication, what we can do is make sure that people are off the roads who should be off the roads,” Williams said. “New Yorkers would instantly understand where we are in any kind of threat crisis level … Some kind of tiered threat level system that people will quickly and easily understand where they are and some of the actions they can take.”

The mayor spoke from Ecuador on Friday.

“Our team is monitoring the situation, preparing, re-positioning city resources,” he said. “Our team, they have been meeting and coordinating to make sure that we are prepared, as always, for any form of storm that hits the city.”

A news conference was held Friday afternoon at the city’s emergency management headquarters in Brooklyn.

“Every single one of our agencies has an emergency plan, and we are executing those plans. We are ready, and you should be, as well,” New York City First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright said.

“Our agencies from the Department of Environmental Protection, Sanitation, Transportation are already on the ground clearing catch basins, particularly in areas that we know flood regularly,” OEM Commissioner Zachary Iscol said. “The city is boosting hazard consciousness through specific public warnings and advisories.”

City officials say New Yorkers in flood-prone areas should remove all belongings from the floor and move to a higher level of their home.

All city residents are urged to avoid flooded areas and sign up for Notify NYC.

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