Queens residents continue to face flood risk two years after Ida storm

Wednesday, September 27, 2023
Queens residents still struggling with aftermath of Ida storm damage
An Eyewitness News analysis of data identified nearly 21 million homes and businesses with an 80% or higher risk of flooding by 2053. Tom Negovan has the story.

HOLLIS, Queens -- Natives of Hollis, Queens watch the forecast much differently than most New Yorkers.

That's because flooding remains a much bigger problem for residents there compared to the rest of the city.

Two years after the neighborhood was ravished by Hurricane Ida, locals say they still get nervous at the first sign of rain.

"We know that climate change is real," said City Council Member for the 27th District Nantasha Williams. "We know that we have an aging infrastructure system in New York City."

Homeowners say it's become their daily reality.

The devastation for residents remains a fresh memory. Lives were lost, basements flooded - and residents say promised financial help simply wasn't enough.

"I remember the empty promises," said Queens resident Aracelia Cook to Eyewitness News.

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Fellow resident Al Kanu shared similar sentiments, stating, "The elected officials who came here on that day - because it was election season, and they haven't been here since."

Many in the neighborhood are reluctant to make repairs due to the fear of facing it all over again.

The truth is - it could.

An Eyewitness News analysis of data from the First Street Foundation and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) found a staggering number of homes in the New York City area not just at high risk of another flood, but also with no flood insurance.

Our data analysis identified nearly 21 million homes and businesses with an 80% or higher risk of flooding by 2053.

And FEMA shows 16 million showed no flood insurance last year - a potentially disastrous gap.

Within the New York metro area, under 300,000 homes and businesses have at least an 80% chance of flooding by 2053.

And 69% show no evidence of flood insurance.

But as residents show the remains of their basement apartments to Eyewitness News reporter Tom Negovan, they share a telling reminder: that's just money.

"The primary focus is creating safe apartments so we don't have to lose any more lives," said Safe Housing Advocate Sadia Rahman."

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