Sewer pipe breaks blamed for chronic flooding

This repaving of the street, as well as the repair of two underground pipes stemmed the tide, sort to speak, on Hollywood Avenue. - Photo by Walter Pofeldt

A longstanding issue of flooding of basements on a Hollywood Avenue block has been fixed thanks to help from Senator Jeff Klein.

After years of denial about the problem by government agencies, which neighbors say stretched back over 20 years, the Department of Environmental Protection has found the cause of what kept basements of seven homes on Hollywood Avenue between Randall and Phillip avenues flooded during heavy rains.

Two neighbors from the street, Margaret Martino and Rosalie Spata, reached out to Klein’s office in July 2007 and finally, crews from DEP appear to have fixed the longstanding problem, which they believe was caused by breaks in sewer mains nearby: one at Schley and Randall avenues, and the other at Randall and Phillip avenues.

After requesting a study of the catch basins that yielded no results, Klein’s office suggested an elevation study, which undertaken by DEP in November 2007.

The study, which was completed in April, found that there was a downward slope of the street that exacerbated the problem of the two broken sewer pipes, which were discovered while DEP undertook the second study.

The two broken pipes caused a back up in the sewer system, sending water careening down driveways of a block of row houses, into their basements and first floors. Crews repaired the two broken pipes in early May.

 “Sometimes getting results is about pushing government agencies to go that extra mile,” said Klein. “When an entire street is underwater something is wrong, and that’s why I requested an elevation study to literally ‘dig deeper’ and get to the bottom of things. I’m happy to say, we’ve left Hollywood Avenue high and dry.”

Both Martino and Spata had nothing but praise for Klein, who they say saved homeowners on the block needless worry over repairs that had to be made every time a quick, heavy rain came pouring down.

“I am so thankful for Senator Klein who prompted these repairs, and would like to kiss those DEP guys who took the time to come into my house and access the damage,” Margaret Martino, who has lived on the block for over 35 years, said. “Before Senator Klein’s involvement, city agencies would come two days after the rain, lift the manhole, see no water, and then leave.”

Martino said that her whole basement had to be stripped bare and rebuilt, and that the lack of flooding over the last few months during heavy rain is a combination of a repaving job of the surface of the street, and fixing the two broken pipes under nearby streets.

“It was literally like having Niagara Falls come in through my front door,” Martino noted. “We went so far as to have a French Drain installed inside of the basement.”

Martino and Spata were giving periodic updates from Senator Klein’s office about what was going on with the street.

“We have had a few bad storms over the last two months, and there has been no flooding” said Spata, who now officially feels safe from the recurring nightmare. “It is almost too good to be true. It was really comforting to find an office like Senator Klein’s in the Bronx that heard us. We are elated.”  

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