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Clean Up Continues Across Tri-State After Flooding, Mudslides

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Several communities around the Tri-State area are still drying out from this week’s severe flooding.

Drenching downpours on Wednesday flooded out neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens and caused mudslides and washouts in Westchester, Long Island and New Jersey.

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One of the areas hardest hit was Howard Beach where crews are still working to clear drains and remove standing water. Many people say part of the problem is the neighborhood’s aging drainage system.

“It was just outrageous,” said resident Gilbert Faria. “It happened in the matter of an hour.”

New York City DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd said the overall sewage system in the area is good, but that it is a “very low-lying area” and other factors also helped contribute to the flooding.

“It was a high tide and a new moon and those two things work together to make it very hard for the drainage to get out,” Lloyd said Thursday.

While some residents complained the drainage system wasn’t properly cleared out after superstorm Sandy, the DEP said the system is self-contained and depends on gravity, not constant cleaning, to remove waste.

As CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang reported, the cleanup jobs are massive and messy.

“Today is trying to get to the point where we can at least find out the damage,” Howard Beach resident Kevin Dowling told Jiang. “The water was bad but it’s when you get to see what’s left over is what’s worse.”

“Everything is gone, everything,” Howard Beach resident Nancy Durante said. “All of a sudden, we have all this mess like this? It’s like, why? Why after all these years? Something wasn’t done that should have been done.”

DEP officials said they don’t know exactly what went wrong. The neighborhood is not a hot spot for flash flooding, so engineers are struggling for answers, Jiang reported.

Across the Tri-State area, families are struggling with the same kind of mess.

On Long Island, the heavy rain is believed to be responsible for mudslides that forced the evacuation of two homes and left two vehicles partially buried in Sea Cliff.

Sea Cliff Village Administrator John Mirando told Newsday emergency and building personnel responded after a mudslide on Bay Avenue caused a retaining wall overlooking Hempstead Harbor to collapse.

Officials say half the home’s backyard was washed away and there was a 100-foot drop to the harbor from the yard. The retaining wall was renovated two years ago.

In Port Washington, two vehicles were buried when mud poured over retaining walls in a lot on Harbor Park Drive.

Between 2 and 5 1/2 inches of rain fell across Long Island overnight Wednesday into Thursday.

In New Jersey, service remains suspended along a section of NJ TRANSIT’s Montclair-Boonton Line until Monday while workers repair a track washout caused by flooding.

The flooding washed away the stones that support the rails between Boonton and Towaco stations early Thursday.

The agency says repairs require an engineering assessment, excavation of a compromised drain pipe, replacing the stones and surfacing the track bed.

Buses will be available to shuttle passengers between Montclair State University and Denville. Midtown Direct service is not affected.

Metro-North is also continuing track repairs after a retaining wall collapsed in Yonkers, causing a mudslide that knocked out a pair of tracks.

In Stamford, the torrential rains caused a big stink for boaters.

As WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau reported, boaters at the Harbor House Marina said they’ve never seen anything like the mess the deluge left behind.

Partially treated sewage poured into the harbor, coating the sides of the boats and leaving a putrid smell, Schneidau reported.

Dock master Carl Bochterle said the overflow from the nearby sewage treatment plant often occurs in heavy rains. But he said this flow was bigger than anything he has ever seen.

“They claim, and I couldn’t believe they admitted to it, 25 million gallons of partially – the key word in that sentence to me was partially – treated sewage,” Bochterle told Schneidau. “It’s like putting your house in the middle of a spetic tank.”

The ebb and flow of tides have taken much of the sewage out of the harbor, but the water still carries a foamy film as well as remnants of the sewage, Schneidau reported.

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