West Nyack Still Struggling Months After Irene

WEST NYACK, NY (WCBS 880) – Life does not magically return to normal after flood waters recede.

The West Nyack post office has been closed for three months since Tropical Storm Irene. It will reopen on Monday.

Down the street at Lulu’s Cafe, the cozy, retro-style luncheonette shows no signs of the flooding or damage, but the Journal News reports business has dropped off 40 percent.

At a dry cleaner, the owner tells WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams that they’re in a slump and that customers have not all returned.

Other storefronts are vacant. A hair salon went under because it had no flood insurance.

A florist, though, is moving past the mopping up, the dehumidifiers, and the smell of mildew cleaner. He’s decorated his window with a Christmas tree and golden cherubs. The flooding will not diminish his holiday spirit.

Do you have a disaster story from Irene? Share it in the comments section below!

  • Perry Dentico

    I am a resident of West Nyack and live next door to the businesses mentioned in your article. On the morning after hurricane Irene passed, our streets, homes and businesses were not flooded. In fact, most of West Nyack survived the storm quite well, and my home did not have a drop of water in the basement. Irene did bring heavy rains but in my opinion it is United Water who is responsible for flooding our town.

    In sharp contrast to Mayor Bloomberg’s proactive approach to the storm, United Water was sleeping on the job. Everyone knew Irene was coming weeks before, yet United Water did little in advance to protect our community. Among other poor decisions, they requested permission from the DEC to release water from the reservoir on Wednesday 8/24, only three days before the storm arrived. They received that permission on Thursday evening. By the time they began releasing water it was a classic example of too little too late.

    On Sunday August 28th United Water decided to release a massive amount of water from the reservoir all at once, and that is when West Nyack flooded. Within a couple of hours our streets and homes were inundated with water. In 23 years there has never been rainwater in my basement. On that day I had about four feet, other homes and businesses considerably more. My neighbors had to be evacuated by boat and were dropped off up the road with no place to go.

    Michael Pointing, a spokesperson for United Water, explained their actions were to protect the integrity of the dam, but they did nothing to protect the integrity of the residents, homes and businesses in West Nyack. Bad enough they did not conduct planned water releases well in advance of the storm, but to make up for their first blunder they severely overcompensated by unloading far more water than the sewers, streams and ground could absorb.

    Knowing Irene passed just hours before, they could have and should have put their employees on the streets to monitor smaller, controlled releases of water. For example, they could have released an inch of water onto the streets, waited for it to recede, released another inch, waited for it to recede and so on. Instead, one big dumping of water damaged or destroyed many of the properties in our town. It all could have been avoided, but instead homeowners and businesses continue to suffer with losses of personal property, ongoing costly repairs, mental and physical exhaustion, and the immediate need to restructure our lives to correct the massive damage caused by one company’s careless and ruthless mistake.

    Water is United Water’s commodity, and it appears they hold it in higher regard than the very people who pay them for it. I think their policy must be to never give it up unless absolutely necessary when you consider we were at the end of drought season and amid one of the rainiest summers in West Nyack’s history. There was no water shortage this year, but rather a shortage of good planning and good decision-making by a thoughtless public utility. That is not the type of neighbor we or anyone else wants.

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