Sept. 2, 2021 By Allie Griffin
The remnants of Hurricane Ida pummeled Queens with record-shattering rainfall Wednesday night, resulting in the death of eight residents and flood damage to countless homes and businesses across the borough.
The storm turned roadways into rivers, created gushing waterfalls in the subway system and filled apartment buildings and businesses with several feet of water. It hit the five boroughs with the greatest single-hour rainfall in the city’s history — 3.15 inches of rain fell in Central Park within one hour.
Elected officials and local agencies are still accessing the amount of damage the storm caused across the city, but it is expected to be extensive.
Several roadways in the five boroughs are still blocked off due to flooding, including part of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway near the Queens Boulevard exit.
MTA crews meanwhile have been working around the clock to restore subway service after numerous stations and tunnels were filled with water. The agency said Queens subway tracks were the most damaged in the city.
“We’ve managed to restore a ton of service today but our tracks in Queens suffered the most damage,” New York City Transit tweeted.
Several branches of Queens Public Library (QPL) were also flooded overnight by the storm.
Branches in Bayside, Corona, Elmhurst, Forest Hills, Hillcrest, Lefrak City, Mitchell-Linden and South Ozone Park were closed Thursday for emergency maintenance, QPL tweeted.
I met with @QPLNYC President and CEO Dennis Walcott this afternoon to discuss the damage last night’s flooding did to QPL’s LeFrak City location. My office stands ready to help get all of our borough’s libraries up and running. pic.twitter.com/SpY07OghHJ
— Queens Borough President Donovan Richards (@QnsBPRichards) September 2, 2021
The overall storm damage is expected to be far-reaching as flooding claimed lives and caused damage in neighborhoods throughout the borough.
Gov. Kathy Hochul said she had spoken to President Joe Biden Thursday morning and that he assured her the federal government would provide any assistance needed to New York.
Hochul later requested a federal emergency declaration for 14 downstate counties — including the whole of New York City — after spending time in Queens and Long Island to access the storm damage.
If the request is approved, federal funds, personnel, equipment and supplies will be sent to the counties to help the areas with recovery efforts. It will also help people find temporary housing and provide funeral assistance.
Hochul said Biden “guaranteed” that he would approve such a request as she spoke at a press conference in Jamaica earlier in the day.
In the meantime, there are a number of resources available for residents who have experienced property damage due to the storm.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, who joined Hochul at the press conference, urged resident to document any damages and file claims with their insurance companies or the New York City Comptroller’s office.
“A few things I want to mention to homeowners out there today,” Richards said. “Please document all of your losses. I’ve spoken to some homeowners here — put a claim in with the Comptroller as well as with your insurance companies.”
Queens residents who have experienced storm damage, including flooding, can file a claim with the NYC Comptroller’s office here.
Residents who have spotted fallen trees, downed power lines or residual flooding should report such issues by calling 311 or visiting portal.311.nyc.gov. They can call 311 if they are in need of shelter or to report damages to personal property as well.
The NYPD said that officers had to relocate many vehicles from city streets and highways due to flooding and anyone looking for their car can also call 311 to locate it.
The Queens Chamber of Commerce is also collecting photos and videos of damages to storefronts to capture the impact the storm had on small businesses. Business owners from all five boroughs are invited to share their documentation by uploading it with their neighborhood name on the Chamber’s Google drive.
New Yorkers can get help with flood insurance at FloodHelpNY as well.
— Catalina Cruz, Esq. (@CatalinaCruzNY) September 2, 2021
Several local leaders have offered to assist those dealing with the aftermath of Ida.
Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani has offered to help get displaced residents’ cases escalated with the mayor for those who reach out to his office.
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer also said he wants to hear from anyone who suffered losses as a result of the storm. He said those affected can email his office at [email protected]
Council Member Daniel Dromm said his office would help with storm clean-up as well and is reachable at [email protected]
Please avoid 35th Avenue and 69th Street, Jackson Heights due to flooding. pic.twitter.com/KQnmi4JKrj
— Daniel Dromm (@Dromm25) September 2, 2021
District 22 candidate Tiffany Cabán is also offering a hand to those in need. Those either in need of support or who want to volunteer to help others can fill out a form with her team.
The city’s Department of Buildings has warned New Yorkers to be extra cautious when accessing damages to their homes or businesses and removing any flood water.
Flood water can be contaminated, contain hazardous debris or be electrically charged.
“While the worst of the flooding has thankfully subsided, that doesn’t mean that the potential for hazards is over,” Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca said. “Flood-damaged buildings can still pose a serious danger to New Yorkers. Take precautions, and if you spot any unsafe conditions, report it immediately.”
— katie honan (@katie_honan) September 2, 2021
Richards said Ida’s impact shows how much more investments are needed to strengthen infrastructure in Queens and prevent future flooding.
“Queens needs to see much more infrastructure investment,” he said. “We cannot wait until tomorrow. We need it today.”
Richards said such investment is long overdue and could have prevented the eight deaths in the borough Wednesday night.
“These lives could have been saved if we had investment that we solely needed a long time ago,” he said.