Column: City agencies should be investigated for Ira catatstrophe

REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs/File Photo

Picture the scenario: Rhythmic rainfall pitter-patters the umbrella of a lovestruck couple, while cascading strings of watery beads form necklaces of passion. Rainfall enhanced imagery carries blissful emotions into hearts and minds. From Gene Kelly, “Singing in the Rain” to Winona Ryder – Gabriel Byrnes’ umbrella scene in “Little Women” cinematic rainfall elicits pleasant emotion. Nevertheless, on occasion, Mother Nature reminds us, the reality of life includes painful Titanic-like events.

On Sept. 1, Ida’s unprecedented rainfall overwhelmed New York City’s outdated sewer systems. The resulting floodwaters brought Titanic-like events into the homes of many New Yorkers. Fatalistic floodwaters took lives, destroyed property, and affected many minds and spirits. Just weeks after Ida, social media sites were wall papered with comments of concern due to a 3-inch rain forecast. Expressions of anxiety, fear, frustration and uncertainty jumped off the pages. Concerned residents, still reeling from the effects of Ida, wrote of anticipating sleepless nights and implementing hypervigilant activities to mitigate potential disasters. Others called for divine intervention: a quote from a worried resident, “Dear Baby Jesus, please don’t let my basement flood again!! PTSD/Paranoid.” The credibility and reliability of social media content is questionable; however, personal conversations with many neighborhood residents support these concerns.

New York City’s sewer/drain system is a vast complex network. A quote from a recent New York Post feature indicated the content of Mayor de Blasio’s Storm Resiliency Plans shows “the DEP’s Bureau of Water and Sewer Operations (BWSO) is responsible for maintaining NYC’s sewer networks in good working order…” further investigation revealed at least four different agencies — DEP, Department of Sanitation, DOT and the Office of Emergency Management are responsible for keeping them clear. City Hall spokesman Mitch Schwartz said, “It is a big job and they have different areas of expertise.” Evidently it takes a consortium of agencies to maintain adequate performance in NYC’s immense, complex sewer/drain network.

Ida’s dire consequences warrant independent, wholesale investigations of all responsible agencies, including oversight offices. The results of such an investigation could bring transparency and proactive measures that reduces weather-related, fear-driven anxiety for many New Yorkers. In this modern era, all New Yorkers should be singing in the rain, not agonizing about Titanic-like pain.


The current political climate has made unified civic associations integral to strengthening the fabrics of low-density communities. Multiple community unification is necessary to stave of the unwanted and procure the needed. Protection of low-density zoning regulations, resolving nuisance issues, proper funding for essential services and infrastructure are unifying common sense objectives. There is strength in numbers; however, apoliticism is crucial for strong inter-community fusions tailored to restore and maintain quality of life. No individual possesses the magic wand of salvation. It is time to cast aside social and political differences for the benefit of our communities. Selflessness must supersede selfishness. It is time for throngs of people to unite and draw the undivided attentions of elected officials and agency heads. The words of automobile pioneer Henry Ford, “Coming together is the beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

Community Footnotes: Kudos to our stellar CB10 for their Ida-related relief efforts. Thank you to CB10 District Manager Matt Cruz, Chairman Joe Russo, CD 13 Councilperson-elect Marjorie Velazquez and the entire CB10 staff. Your sincere dedication is noticed and appreciated.

Daylight savings time concludes 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 7. Remember to turn clocks back one hour. Please take time to replace batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. In house fire situations, 60 seconds could be the difference between safety and tragedy.

There is a continued increase in petty thefts and vandalisms throughout the 45th Precinct footprint. Video evidence on social media shows nefarious individuals lurking around parked vehicles and encroaching on private property during daytime and overnight hours. Do not become a victim. Please lock car doors and remove all valuables upon exiting your vehicle.

The next meeting of the Spencer Estate Association is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 17, at 7:30 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus. Elected officials and agency heads gauge community resolve by attendances at civic meetings. Tell a friend, a packed house sends a message. If we want to keep and reap the blessings of our fine quality of life, we must endure the fatigue of supporting it. Our community has traditionally exhibited a “We are Family attitude.” Now is the time to let it shine. Communicate; make that phone call, text message or email. Please check on family, friends and neighbors especially the elderly and vulnerable. Any area homeowner or renter interested in the Spencer Estate Civic Association attend the Nov. 17 meeting or send an email to

Remember: Community=Common-Unity and Inclusion brings Solutions.

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