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Reader Christina Boryk on Elmsford Floods

The following is a letter to the editor from our reader Christina Boryk, whose aunt Fran Cerone was featured in our story about the struggle of Elmsford’s Babbitt Court residents with the frequent floods.

Boryk, who was born in New Rochelle and works with the development of educational programs, said that she spent many of her childhood days at Cerone’s house on Babbitt Court. She lives in Eastchester.

Thank you for continuing to keep the plight of the residents of Babbit Court on the front page.  As you have heard from Mr. O’Country and Mrs. Cerone, this has issue has been affecting their lives for quite some time and has continued to worsen over the years.   I’d like to say that this neighborhood has been dying a slow painful death for the last 30 years and Irene has now pushed it over the edge.

Any resident of the Lower Hudson knows that when it rains for more than 12 hours, the Saw Mill, the Bronx River and the Hutch will most likely be flooded.  It is a knee jerk reaction.  It is also common knowledge that most of 9A is classified as a flood zone as it is concurrently broadcast on the news as they show footage of people being rescued by boats.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  As this is the worst flood that many residents in Westchester have experienced, it is time to investigate some new angles.

HEALTH

·        Mrs. Cerone’s house has been flooded 14 times, 4 in the last 6 months.  She was unable to raise her house from the flood in 2008 as it was declared structurally unsound.  How can she be expected to move back in now when there is obvious mold and mildew (from the pictures) as well as a distinct odor emanating from it?

·        Many gas stations, industrial and heavy equipment businesses line 9A. What is the effect of the residue/spill off from the gas lines, oil and other chemicals which are present?  What is the longitudinal effect over 30 years that this could have had on the environment, homes and neighborhoods? Wouldn’t continual flooding also cause erosion in and around the gas lines posing a larger issue?

·        Are these residents and especially those with small children at risk for developing possible health issues? Along that line, is it really safe for children to be playing on the Little League field?

·        Where is the Westchester County Department of Public Health in all this? Why has no one involved them in the assessment of these properties?

ECONOMIC

·        How much money have these businesses along 9A and the Saw Mill lost every year over the last 30 years due to flooding?  In particular those that are food service such as Pete’s Saloon, Antun’s and Rini’s? Also, would you, knowing these restaurants were flooded even want to patronize them?

·        How much money has it cost the city and county in clean up and repair over the years? How much more will it cost them?

·         What about the insurance companies?  Aren’t they sick of paying out in the same areas?  Have they raised their premiums?

·        What about the businesses – does the insurance money even cover their losses? How much of their own money do they wind up reinvesting?  Is this even profitable for them?

·        What is the real reason the county won’t do anything about this?  I find it hard to buy Astorino’s line about how “it’s under Federal jurisdiction” and the county is “not allowed to do anything.”  Honestly, if it was White Plains or Scarsdale, it would have been fixed 25 years ago.

·        According to Astorino, the Army Corps of Engineers has been "researching" this problem for over 50 years. Where is this research?  Is there a report which is available to the public?  Are there any concrete conclusions or recommendations?  Has it even been formally presented to any state or county department which would be able to initiate next steps?  Why has there been no follow through on this every time the area floods?

·        How much money is this costing FEMA every time it floods?

ENVIRONMENTAL

·        How about investigating if the Elmsford section (and most likely other sections) of 9A is sinking? While I am no geologist or engineer, my gut feeling is that the area is slowing turning into marshland.  If it is, why would it make sense or even be safe to have residents rebuild their homes or raise them?

Everyone always touches the tip of the iceberg out of necessity and then carefully navigates away into safer waters with this issue.  This area has suffered from years of neglect and the “out of sight and out of mind” mentality. Right now there is a huge opportunity to explore some of the meatier issues which others have either not thought about or been too “polite” publicly address. Any way you can expand on any of these points to keep the momentum going would be greatly appreciated by residents and business owners alike.

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