Demanding Answers: Whitestone Families Say City Isn’t Taking Sewage Floods Seriously

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Families in Whitestone, Queens have been cleaning up all week after a sewage overflow left a nasty mess in their homes.

CBS2’s Erin Logan was demanding answers again on Thursday.

Images of sewage spilling into homes, and sofa cushions that were damaged and thrown into a pile of trash, said it all. The affected families in Whitestone, Queens do not think the city is taking their concerns seriously, so CBS2 went straight to the commissioner of the city Department of Design and Construction.

Logan: “Commissioner, these residents on Tenth Ave., as you know, are dealing with quite a mess; sewage in their homes. What is the DDC’s involvement in this at this point in fixing the problem?

Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora: “We are working with our colleagues at the (Department of Environmental Protection) in trying to understand what happened.”

Peña-Mora admitted the sewage overflow nightmare began after his agency recently re-lined the inside of the sewer line.

Now, the DDC is investigating together with the DEP. But it has been almost a week, and neighbors said there should be some solution at this point.

“I haven’t seen anything that makes me feel that they really care what happened here, frankly,” said Bruce Davidow. “I mean, it’s outrageous.”

Davidow told CBS2 he has been at his 94-year-old parents’ home every day lately, ripping apart the basement and throwing everything away. He and the neighbors are preparing for yet another hit.

Logan: “These people are concerned it’s going rain heavily this weekend, and they’re worried nothing will be done in time.”

Peña-Mora: “We need to be thorough to understand what is the situation – the current situation.”

When asked if workers were on the scene on Thursday, Peña-Mora said, “I’m not aware.

After CBS2’s Logan questioned Peña-Mora, she went to check things out on Tenth Avenue. No workers from the DEP or the DDC were seen.

“At this point, I don’t have all the details on how the investigation will be proceeding,” Peña-Mora said.

CBS2 has been trying to get someone from the DEP on camera since Tuesday, for an idea of what the plan was moving forward.

Late Thursday, CBS2 got a brief statement saying engineers are investigating the cause, and extra staff will monitor during this weekend’s rain. There were no answers on what will be done in the long or short term.

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