JAMAICA, Queens (PIX11) — This week will mark one year since Hurricane Ida devastated the tri-state region.
The storm’s relentless rains and flooding left dozens of people dead, either destroyed or damaged thousands of homes, and knocked out power for days to tens of thousands more homes. Now, the number of families who have still not recovered from Ida’s damage may surprise some people.
Some of the storm’s victims are preparing to fight New York City over financial compensation they say that they’re owed, and some victims remain homeless a full year after the hurricane’s rains took all that they had.
Amit Shivprasad lived on 183rd Street in Jamaica when Ida made her presence strongly felt.
“The rain was so constant that there was nothing we could have done,” he said in an interview on Tuesday. “There’s a manhole at the end of the street that exploded.”
“We lost 35 feet of foundation,” he continued. “The entire side of the house collapsed from the hydrostatic pressure of the water. When the FEMA engineers came out to look at the house, they were surprised the whole house didn’t fall in.”
He spent the three months after the storm dealing with city agencies, insurance companies, and other entities. After that, he had to move himself, and his parents to a rented apartment since the home were uninhabitable.
Eventually, this summer, Shivprasad talked with Mayor Eric Adams about his family’s and neighborhood’s plight.
“The mayor told me someone was gonna get in contact with me,” Shivprasad said. “Someone did come out. A deputy community commissioner came out. We spoke for about three or four hours. I haven’t heard back anything since that last visit.”
That was about a month ago, he said. He’s waiting.
Also waiting are more than 100 families who, unlike Shivprasad, don’t have homes at all a year later. They’ve been put up in hotels, including the Radisson near JFK Airport and two hotels in Brooklyn. The South Asian-American service organization Chhaya Community Development Corporation has been helping families.
The city has, also. In a statement, Housing, Preservation and Development spokesperson Jeremy House said, “Since the devastation of Hurricane Ida nearly a year ago, we are proud that more than 250 displaced families under our care have been able to find housing. Many of those families were able to identify housing on their own. For those that remain, we are deploying every available resource to help them find permanent housing and get back on their feet.”
More than 40 people in our region lost their lives in the flooding. The deaths in New York City were largely in basement apartments that flooded.
Those apartments are illegal under city law, but a consortium of community groups is trying to make them legal and regulated. Sylvia Morse, a program manager at the Pratt Center, is part of an initiative called the BASE Campaign.
“The way to protect tenants is to bring this housing into the light,” Morse said in an interview. “Part of legalization would include creating safety standards for basement apartments,” she added.
As for Shivprasad, he managed to get a federal SBA loan for himself and his parents to shore up their house. Repaying it will take time and money, he said.
“This is going to cost me out of my pocket at least $220,000 to fix this damage,” Shivprasad said.
His family was among 4,700 who filed claims with the city for reimbursement for damage that their homes suffered. City Comptroller Brad Lander rejected all of the claims, citing a law from 1907 that prohibited the type of compensation that residents sought.
Many of those residents are now preparing to sue the city instead.