The stretch of 88th Street leading between Astoria Boulevard and 30th Avenue showcased the full extent of life following the worst flood many New Yorkers have ever experienced.
Late into the evening on Thursday, Sept. 2. emotionally and physically exhausted Queens residents continued to toil away, tossing thousands of dollars’ worth of furniture to the curb. Mounting water-soaked mattresses, broken-down closets, and even refrigerators outside of every property, the block became a graveyard to the life many had known for years.
Milton Rozario has lived on 88th Street for two years now in happiness with his family, until Hurricane Ida hit.
“What can you say?” Rozario said, the sorrow etched on his face, adding, “We have never experienced anything like this. My sister called me while I was at work but when I got here, there was not much I could do. I was really worried about my two kids but thank God they are okay.”
Rozario invited amNewYork Metro into his home to see the devastation firsthand. Family members stood with their heads bowed as Rozario pointed to streaks of mud left over the floors and walls by the torrent. With their children’s beds unusable, the family said they must find somewhere else to sleep.
“What can we do?” Rozario asked, dejectedly.
That question rings true for many here. Astrid Hernandez piled her belongings that have essentially become nothing more than soggy trash. She was at home when the deluge burst through her doors at 10:30pm, stating that she had no notice or flash flood alerts until it was already too late.
“We didn’t have a warning. We got the alert of flash flood right when it was happening. We just couldn’t do anything; it was already happening,” Hernandez said, hauling furniture with gloved hands.
“The water was up to my hips. I was hoping it wouldn’t reach the breakers and cause a fire. It ruined everything. We have to throw everything out. Hopefully we can get help,” Hernandez said, explaining that the kitchen, living room, and basement were gutted.
Ulices Lopez was forced to leave his basement apartment behind and return to his parents’ home while his landlord surveys the damages in conjunction with his insurance. Looking down at his ruined belongings, he recounted the terror he faced during the night.
“I was sleeping, and then I woke up to water rising from the shower and toilet. I called my landlord and few minutes late he comes running down because water was coming in from both sides of the house—the backyard and the front yard. I had very little time to get the belongings that I could, just the most important things,” Lopez said.
Lopez counts himself lucky to be alive, and that while his bed and other furniture now sit on the curb in shambles, he said at least he has the option to stay in his parent’s home while he recovers.
“Water was rising fast; it was up to my waist. I had no choice but to bring what I could up to my landlord’s apartment and leave the rest,” Lopez said, pointing at all of his items.