Crews pump out water from homes after historic storm brings flooding to Yonkers

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Saturday, September 30, 2023
Crews pump out water from flooded homes in Westchester County
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North of New York City, a state of emergency was declared in Yonkers and Westchester County where heavy rain brought flooding from the overflowing Saw Mill River. Sonia Rincon reports from Yonkers.

YONKERS, Westchester County (WABC) -- North of New York City, a state of emergency was declared in Yonkers and Westchester County where heavy rain brought flooding from the overflowing Saw Mill River.

The Yonkers Fire Department worked to pump out water from the basements of homes in a residential cul-de-sac near the Sprain Brook Parkway.

Yonkers, with all of its with hills and valleys and rivers has areas that were once called hundred-year flood zones, but intense rainfall like the one experienced on Friday is happening with regularity now, and a lot more often than that.

"Water comes up real quick from the Bronx River, backs into the Sprain and unfortunately backs into this neighborhood leaving 6, 7, 8 feet of water in these poor people's basements," said Capt. Gene Kelly of the Yonkers Fire Department Special Operations.

RELATED | Record rainfall swamps New York City and the Tri-State area

One of New York City's wettest days in decades flooded streets, highways, and homes while causing disruptions to subway, train and air travel.

To make matters worse, the power went out, so the pumps didn't kick in.

They're working now, but since the water is receding so slowly, there's nowhere for the water to go.

"The water was in our basement, and it reached up to the staircase level, all the electrical outlets were covered," Yonkers homeowner Marina Chisena said.

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Across Yonkers, pumps and fire and public works crews have been working Friday night to divert water away from homes.

"It's just about the amount of rain in that period of time, into a system that was designed for weather as it existed 200 years ago. Not weather for 2023," Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said.

Parkways like the Bronx River and Saw Mill were under water, and Central Avenue became a river.

"A lot of cars stuck in the water today with people trapped," Kelly said. "We made a lot of water rescues."

Residents say Ida was worse, but this system that dumped 4 inches of rain was still pretty bad, and it's happening with increased frequency.

Neighbors say they've been begging elected leaders for help to come up with solutions, and many residents have been taking matters into their own hands.

"Literally Monday they finished this driveway, we put two 8,000 gallon CULTECs underneath this driveway, those are water capturing devices," Yonkers homeowner Dan Chisena said. "And, you can't capture a whole river."

There have been ideas floated about building walls to protect this neighborhood and others, but those cost tens of millions of dollars, where storm damage might only cost a few million.

But if the frequency of these intense rainstorms keeps increasing, those expensive solutions might begin to actually sound cost effective.


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