Devastation in Queens: Ida hits borough hard


QUEENS — Ida left families heartbroken across New York City, but Queens was hit the hardest: most of the 13 dead lived in the borough.

A number of those who died were stuck in flooded basements. The chief of the NYPD’s community affairs bureau, Jeffrey Maddrey, said officers were going to door-to-door searching for people trapped or killed.

“We are making sure there are no other victims of a similar nature with the surrounding homes,“ the chief said.

Borough President Richard Donovan described the situation as catastrophic.

“It is heartbreaking to see residents who put everything into their homes lose everything,” he said. “This feels like a sucker punch.”

Sophy Liu said she tried using towels and garbage bags to stop the water coming into her first-floor apartment in Queens, but the flood rose up to her chest in just a half hour. She roused her son from bed and put him in a life jacket and inflatable swimming ring.

The door stuck when she tried to open it, possibly from water pressure, she said. She called two friends who helped her jar it loose.

“I was obviously scared, but I had to be strong for my son. I had to calm him down,” she recalled Thursday as medical examiners removed three bodies from a home down the street.

In another part of Queens, water rapidly filled Deborah Torres’ first-floor apartment to her knees as her landlord frantically urged her neighbors below — who included a baby — to get out, she said. But the water rushed in so strongly that she surmised they weren’t able to open the door. The three residents died.

“I have no words,” she said. “How can something like this happen?”

At one Queens development, water filled the sunken patio of a basement apartment, then broke through a glass door, trapping a 48-year-old woman in 6 feet (2 meters) of water. Neighbors unsuccessfully tried for an hour to save her.

“She was screaming, ‘Help me, help me, help me!’ We all came to her aid, trying to get her out,” said the building’s assistant superintendent, Jayson Jordan, but “the thrust of the water was so strong.”

Residents said they have complained for years about flooding on another Queens street, where a woman and her 22-year-old son died in a basement apartment. Her husband and the couple’s other son were spared only because they stepped out to move a car, next-door neighbor Lisa Singh said.

“No one should have to go this way. I feel like this was 100% avoidable,” she said.

The Queens borough president joined the PIX11 Morning News on Friday to share a cleanup update, as well as give more background on the lack of infrastructure funding for parts of the borough:

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