Crews scramble to clean up sewage from Queens homes

Mayor Bill de Blasio personally went to Queens on Monday to survey the situation after dozens of homes in South Ozone Park were flooded with sewage. The homes still reek from the stench of raw sewage. The neighborhood was not only flooded with waste but with emergency response vehicles, hoses, pumps and city workers all aiming to get the putrid problem under control.

City officials said they're on the right track.

"Yesterday, DEP set up what's called a bypass system where we put a large pipe above ground on the street and we're pumping sewage up from the lower level through that pipe and that's now alleviating any backups into the neighborhood," Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Vincent Sapienza said.

A large sewer near Kennedy Airport with a partial blockage is to blame for the initial backup, Sapienza said. But he couldn't confirm what caused that blockage.

"The vast majority of backups related to—the sewage backups around the city—is related to cooking grease," Sapienza said. "We did not say that the reason for this particular blockage was cooking grease and until we actually get in that sewer we won't know for sure."

Neighbors who have lost nearly everything they own are skeptical as to whether or not the city can offer a long-term solution.

While officials said there won't be any further backups, repairs to homes that are already affected could take several days. Homeowners can fill out forms with the city comptroller's office to make claims for compensation.


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