Evidence of the devastation left by Tropical Storm Ida was still apparent across Edgemont a week after the storm made landfall Sept. 1.
In the weekend recovery effort, Greenburgh’s highway, sanitation, water department and department of public works maintenance crews spread across the unincorporated areas of the town to fix damaged drains and roads and to pick up a swell of garbage and flood-damaged items.
As rain pummeled the region in a very short span of time, water pooled across Central Avenue, making it look more like a river in some areas than a state roadway. According to Walter Groden, chair of the Greenville fire commissioners, the fire department completed 10 to 15 rescues from cars in floodwater on Central Avenue between Mount Joy Avenue and Ardsley Road during the storm. Twelve people were saved from the rising waters, including three infants, according to Groden.
“I’ve been doing this for over 50 years and this is the worst I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen anything like this before and I talked with everyone else involved, none of us have,” said Groden about the storm.
According to Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, about 1,275 customers in the unincorporated area lost power during the storm.
The fire district received 30 to 35 calls related to significant flooding and was still attending to a backlog of calls earlier this week. Fire Commissioner Jon Faust told the Inquirer the department has the capacity, training and equipment to help residents perform pump outs in their flooded spaces, but during major storm events that result in massive communitywide flooding — and an overwhelmed Westchester County dispatcher line — the fire department has to prioritize calls where people’s health is at risk.
Faust said the department is willing to help people with pump outs, but recommended residents contact a private pump out service as soon as possible during a storm event.
Prone to flooding during medium and heavy rain events, Clarendon Place in Edgemont was one of the hardest hit areas during Ida. Houses in the low-lying flood plain on Clarendon Place and Winthrop Lane were hit by devastating flooding during a storm July 8 when a waterway — aptly named Troublesome Brook — that runs parallel to Central Avenue overflowed.
During Ida, drains leading to Troublesome Brook on Clarendon Place overflowed, leading to rising water that inundated basements and garages. Cars left in driveways were submerged and destroyed, and downstairs appliances were rendered unusable.
Sediment remained across the road a week after the storm. Homeowners laid out flood-damaged goods to dry on their front lawns and left their garage doors open to air out all the remaining moisture.
Although the water had receded, the memory and effects of the storm weighed heavily on residents. Kapil Kumar, who has lived on Clarendon Place for 11 years, could still see the water line left by the flood on the white fence in his backyard, which abuts the brook. The line was up to Kumar’s neck (Kumar is 5 feet 5 inches tall, and he said it only took about an hour of rain to reach that high.
Hui Lei, a 20-year resident on Clarendon Place, estimates his house sustained between $10,000 and $20,000 worth of damage from the storm; he lost all his downstairs furniture, exercise equipment, electronics, appliances and his two cars.
“We never had this situation, so I didn’t realize until it was too late,” said Lei. “When I realized, it was already all soaked.”
Ram Sangasani said he got about 4 feet of water which totaled the two cars in the driveway, his boiler, and his washer and dryer. He estimates it will cost him about $11,000 just to fix his heater. Sangasani said he’s enjoyed living on the cul-de-sac and speaks highly of the community he’s built with his neighbors, but he said he would not live on Clarendon Place with the incessant flooding if not for the school district.
“Everything here is awesome … everybody knows everybody,” said Sangasani while cleaning out his garage. “Everything is positive here except this … water.”
Houses on Winthrop Lane, one block from Clarendon Place and closer to Central Avenue, were also hit hard by the storm. Flood-soaked items were left to dry out on a lawn at one house, and garbage bags filled with debris and a mattress were stacked on the street in front of another.
The Greenville Firehouse on Central Avenue also took a hit due to flooding from Troublesome Brook. Groden said volunteer firefighters tried to mitigate water damage, but the department still lost a boiler, a hot water heater, equipment and boxes of records.
“We’ll still be in a cleanup and recovery mode for a while,” he said.
According to Richard Fon, the town’s commissioner of public works, agents from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) visited Clarendon Place over the weekend to survey the damage.
Robert DiLorenzo, a Clarendon Place resident whose house also flooded during the storm, has been organizing neighbors to convince the town to do something about the incessant flooding from Troublesome Brook. The July 8 storm was a powder keg that led residents to meet with town officials to discuss solutions to the decades-old problem. Debate continues between DiLorenzo and the town on the best solutions to fix the problem, but meanwhile, DiLorenzo said he is worried that eventually the flooding in the area will lead to a death.
“This is happening too often now,” said DiLorenzo. “Enough is enough. We can’t say, ‘Oh, this is a once-in-a-decade or once-in-a-century storm.’ No, I won’t accept that.”
Before the storm hit, crews cleared four loads of vegetation surrounding the brook. Fon said the town was planning to put a proposal before the town board to have an engineer study the area.
“It’s not a simple problem,” said Fon. “It’s one of these things where the whole watershed needs to get looked at.”