Rob Murray would watch Long Beach Road flood under the Southern State Parkway every time there was a heavy rain.
From his South Hempstead home where he has lived for 10 years on the corner of the street, Murray, 62, said even a strong downpour lasting under an hour would fill up the dipped road under the Southern State overpass with rainwater. Unsuspecting drivers would inevitably get trapped and have to be rescued from the flooded street.
"Every time we have a storm, we have a flood," Murray said. "The bigger the storm, the bigger the flood. This has been a problem for 30 to 60 years."
Nassau County officials are working on a drainage project and repaving to reduce flooding on Long Beach Road. The work will last through early September.
Murray made videos of multiple rainstorms and cars being stuck under the overpass and sent them to Nassau County officials asking to fix the flooded street and adding curbs on street corners.
Work started last week, which will include resurfacing pavement on Long Beach Road for just more than one-tenth of a mile, from Woodland Drive to approximately 100 feet north of Dietz Street. County workers will install 10 leaching basins — each 10 feet deep — to address drainage issues and frequent flooding that occurs beneath the Southern State Parkway overpass.
Workers also will be filling the pavement north and south of the overpass and replacing concrete curbs, driveway aprons and pavement along the shoulders, county officials said.
"It’s not just congestion, but flooding can lead to dangerous driving, damage to cars and road closures like in Tropical Storm Elsa," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said. "This community knows all too well it doesn’t take a tropical storm to bring everything to a standstill. Sometimes even minor rainfall can flood the area under the Southern State overpass and double commute times."
Curran said as little as a foot of water in the street can move cars off the road, leading to crashes and water rescues under the overpass, which has been a chronic problem area for flooding.
The county is spending $400,000 to start the project, expected to be completed by September, depending on weather interruptions for construction. The project is being done to help communities on the South Shore, including the border of the village of Hempstead.
Nassau County Legis. Debra Mulé (D-Freeport) said she has been working to fix the area since she was elected in 2018.
"I’ve been talking to some of the people — they’re saying that this has been an issue for 60 years," Mulé said. "Well, that’s not acceptable — we have to fix it. My aim is to put the South Hempstead Fire Department out of the water rescue business."
South Hempstead Fire Commissioner Thomas Maher said safer roads will make water rescues one last thing firefighters have to worry about.
State Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown) said the project is important to finish as climate change leads to stronger storms and tidal flooding.
"Heavy rain is playing a bigger role and it’s imperative to maintain infrastructure in Nassau County," Thomas said.
South Hempstead flood and drainage project
$400,000 project for repaving and adding 10 drainage basins on Long Beach Road under the Southern State Parkway overpass.
Work lasting six weeks through early September