Homeowner: 'How Do We Know What Came Up In That Water?'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Residents of one Staten Island neighborhood worry they are cleaning up more than just flood water.

They say superstorm Sandy brought raw sewage to their street and now they are worried about their health.

Sandy’s flood waters submerged the 200 block of Jefferson Avenue in Dongan Hills. Residents said there was plenty of raw sewage mixed in and that the smell has lingered.

“There was definitely a thick muck, aside from the water itself, 6 inches deep. Very smelly,” Staten Island resident John Evangelista told CBS 2’s Elise Finch.

Residents said the effort to clean up the sewage and debris has not come quickly enough, compounding the hardship.

“There’s mounds of dirt between the cars that haven’t been moved yet,” homeowner Linda Evangelista told Finch. “People come walking down the street, they track it back onto my property. Workers come to work, they track it into the house.”

The former nurse told CBS 2’s Finch that she ripped out her formerly finished basement and power-washed her property to try to get rid of the sewage, but said she is concerned about potential long-term effects.

“It’s the uncertainty, the unknown. How do we know what came up in that water?” Evangelista said.

Residents said a simple cleaning is not enough to completely wash away the waste, and called on the city to treat the streets and sidewalks.

“What I would have done was foam the block and then washed it down,” Staten Islander Salvatore Raguso told Finch.

Rep. Michael Grimm has stepped in on behalf of his constituents on Jefferson Avenue, asking the city’s Department of Environmental Protection to investigate.

“I think there has to be a team from DEP put together and evaluating, and actually taking samples, and testing the air quality inside these homes as well as the soil,” Grimm told Finch.

The DEP said it is aware of the situation and is looking into it.

Rep. Grimm has requested a meeting with representatives from the DEP, which could happen as soon as Tuesday.


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