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NYC’s Bottomless Street Puddles Are Spreading: Gothamist


(Scott Heins/Gothamist)

You may have noticed that New York is getting wetter. So far this year, over 60 inches of rain have been dumped on the city, making it the seventh soggiest year on record with nearly a month to go. In the last 18 years, we’ve sloshed through five of the ten wettest years in city history—an increase in precipitation that’s widely attributed to climate change. Indeed, scientists expect that the next few decades of rising sea levels and intensifying storms will not be kind to our little island town.

In addition to the tropical-cyclone level existential problems, we can also expect some smaller, irritating nuisances. A higher likelihood of getting our socks soaked by ever wider and harder to jump street puddles, for instance. A new analysis by Localize.city found that reports of curbside lagoons are “skyrocketing” across the city: Over a 12 month period through September 30th, there were 3,141 complaints of street flooding—an increase of more than 50 percent from the same period four years ago.

Many of the complaints were concentrated in areas hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy. On a particular flood-prone block in Staten Island’s Midland Beach, one resident even went so far as to hang a fake tourism sign, according to Localize. “Welcome to Grimsby Lake. New all-season resort in our neighborhood,” it read. Unsurprisingly, low-lying and coastal areas received the most street flooding complaints, with the Hudson-river adjacent Marble Hill racking up the highest number of grievances. The top 10 are:

  • Marble Hill, Manhattan
  • Midland Beach, Staten Island
  • Stapleton, Staten Island
  • Arrochar, Staten Island
  • Midtown South, Manhattan
  • Chelsea, Manhattan
  • Rosedale, Queens
  • Coney Island, Brooklyn
  • Far Rockaway, Queens
  • Borough Park, Brooklyn

The highest complaint day came after a torrential downpour on May 5th (a double-rainbow day, as it happens).

Localize also dug into the top intersections for street flooding complaints over the past year:

  • 147-05 and 147-11 259th St., Rosedale: 21
  • 41 and 52 Doty Ave., Arrochar: 17
  • 532 Craig Ave., Tottenville: 14
  • Grimsby Street and Mapleton Avenue, Midland Beach: 13
  • 314 to 347 Beach 84th Street, Rockaways: 13
  • Francis Lewis Boulevard and 231-07 Merrick Blvd., Laurelton: 13
  • Tennyson Drive and 101 Goodall Street, Eltingville: 11
  • 144-35 and 144-41 157th St., Springfield Gardens: 11
  • 5260 to 5360 Broadway, Marble Hill: 11
  • 114-36 to 114-48 141th St., South Jamaica: 11

Most likely, the high complaint areas that don’t sit on the waterfront are suffering from poor infrastructure, which isn’t expected to improve any time soon. “New York City can expect an uptick in storm events that strain the city’s infrastructure; and with rising sea levels, storm impacts will be exacerbated over the long term,” warned Localize.city urban planner Olivia Jovine.

“Many streets get flooded because the runoff can’t be absorbed. Heavy rainfall often causes sewers to back up into people’s homes, or flow into the city’s rivers and bays, as polluted stormwater or untreated sewage gushes directly into the waterways before reaching sewage treatment facilities.”

If you’re interested in staying up to date on New York City’s wildly inefficient drainage system, I’d recommend this handy twitter account (also, a pair of waterproof boots). In the meantime, tis the season for ‘Best Of’ lists. Send us pics of your favorite rain/sleet/slush lagoons to tips@gothamist.com—good luck out there.




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