DYKER HEIGHTS, Brooklyn (PIX11) — Nearly two years after flooding connected to Hurricane Ida killed 43 people in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, a cluster of families in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, are getting their collapsed backyards rebuilt.
“It was a hard, hard fight with the city, a very hard fight, but we got this—finally,” said Wanda Luyondo, who rallied four neighbors together to get their joint retaining wall fixed.
Luyondo turned to PIX11 News in early October 2021, a month after Ida’s torrential rains flooded basements in multiple city sections with deadly results.
After we did our first story, Luyondo got a visit from the federal agency, FEMA—which rejected the family’s application for assistance.
“The reason was because the wall was too far away from the house,” Ruben Luyondo, Wanda’s husband, explained.
Meantime, the family was slapped with a partial vacate order from the New York City Department of Buildings and told it had to start repairs in thirty days.
Luckily for the Luyondo family, local politicians came to the family’s aid and asked the NYC Housing Recovery program to help them.
The Ida Assistance Program ultimately awarded each family $26,890.00 toward the new retaining wall—a total of $134,450.00
“Mary helped me, and Channel 11 helped me, and my prayers were answered,” a grateful Wanda Luyondo said Monday, as workers from Staten Island’s BCR Construction started digging near the wall.
“We have to do some excavation and do our footings,” said company owner Umar Chatta, “and then do some concrete work. The wall will be back together again.”
The start of the project was stymied briefly, as some residents who share a community drive with the Luyondos near Eighth Avenue and 67th Street in Dyker Heights tried to stop a container from coming in.
“You CANNOT put the container here!” one man yelled. “It will put cracks in the cement.”
Wanda Luyondo tried to reason with him and finally retorted, “Two years it took me to build this wall and fight with the city, and you’re going to give me a problem about a crack? You have 50 thousand cracks on your side of the sidewalk.”
Luyondo said for the last two years; she was praying every time it rained, hoping the backyards wouldn’t shift farther down. Now she hopes this project is getting ever closer to the finish line.