Residents blame town, county for flooding

Sandbags rest against the rear sliding door of Sandbags rest against the rear sliding door of Charles Dickens' home on Woodside Avenue in Baldwin, where he says flood water has entered the home and caused damage. (July 5, 2012) Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

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Homeowners on a two-block stretch of Woodside Avenue in Baldwin say they have suffered for years from flooding of their homes and damage to their cars because of insufficient drainage.

The area often floods when heavy rains inundate Woodside Avenue, between Grand Avenue and Centennial Avenue, with as much as 4 feet of water, residents say. They blame the flooding of Woodside Avenue on Nassau County and the Town of Hempstead because they say there are inadequate storm drains on the street.

"It's like a Lotto," said Charles Dickens III, 36, who has lived on Woodside Avenue for four years and whose home has been flooded twice. "You don't know which house it is going to hit when it rains hard."

The rainwater flows down from Grand Avenue, a county road, and from Schuman Avenue and Barth Drive, both town roads. The water then pools on Woodside Avenue, the lowest point.

"The water flows down like a river from three different directions," said Dickens, a married father of three. "You even get tide waves."

Dickens said flooding in 2010 caused $10,000 worth of out-of-pocket damages to his den area, basement and garage. Then, on June 2, his house flooded again, and he had to replace his furniture, floors and walls. This time, flood insurance covered the $18,000 in damages, he said.

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"This is not any way to live," said Dickens, adding his neighbors are considering a class-action lawsuit against the town. "Every time it rains, you shouldn't have to worry that the street would flood or that if you go on vacation that your house would be flooded."

Stephanie Diah said her family has lost five cars in 12 years because of flooding on the street. Her daughter Jessica Diah, 18, a student at Nassau Community College, lost the car her father bought her in April in a flood on June 25.

"I am afraid to even [park] my car on the road," said Stephanie Diah, who recalled knocking on her neighbors' doors on June 2 at 3 a.m. during a rainstorm to tell them to move their cars.

Town spokesman Michael Deery said the town plans to install two new storm drain basins at Woodside and Schuman avenues this fall.

Michael M. Martino Jr., a spokesman for the county's Department of Public Works, said the county would assist the town, since Woodside Avenue is in the county's drainage system.

The Baldwin Oaks Civic Association has scheduled a special meeting on the flooding issue with county and town officials at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Coes Neck Park's community room, 1240 Coes Neck Rd.

"We hope that we can get this resolved as soon as possible because I feel for them," said association president Jacqueline Bell.

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