WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- After Victoria Santos' Cloverdale Avenue home flooded five years ago, she spent $10,000 outfitting her basement with a new drain system and bought a pump and generator to prevent future water damage. Still nearly twice as much water rushed into Santos' home during Troipcal Storm Irene this Sunday, forcing her to conclude that a clogged drainage system and the recently-elevated Central Westchester Parkway in her backyard were to blame.
"I did my part, but the city has not done there's," said Santos, 53, an intensive care unit nurse at the Westchester Medical Center. "When they redid the parkway about 10 years ago, they made it higher than the neighobrhood. I don't know that they did enough studies or added enough drains."
Santos, who has lived at 40 Cloverdale Ave. for 21 years, said she intended to join the rest of her neighborhood in bringing a class lawsuit against White Plains and Westchester County, who residents say have bickered about who is responsible for cleaning the drainage system and neglected the flood-prone zone.
Although it's hard to find a yard bare of damaged furniture and scrap wood on the southern end of Cloverdale Avenue, the mounds of discarded mattresses, window frames, and garbage were piled highest in front of Alex Ciraco's 14 Cloverdale Ave. house.
"We lost everything in the house. The entire house was covered in drain sewage water. There was feces everywhere and the carpets were floating," said Ciraco, whose family was evacuated around 7:20 a.m. Sunday. "On the city's side, they never clean the sewage system and every time you call, they say, 'We cleaned it.' And the county is responsible for the parkway. They just blame each other."
Ciraco, a 28-year-old mechanic at a truck dealership, said he wouldn't have bought the house or spent so much money painting and remodeling it had he known neighbors called it the "condemned house."
"Everybody that has lived here has been here a year or a year and a half and then moved. Since I've been here seven months it's flooded three times," said Ciraco.
Nearby, Joe Gillmore, 55, spent Wednesday fishing dead rodents and a squirrel out of his home.
"I would 100 percent join the lawsuit," said Gillmore, a salesman who has lived on the street for five years. "I would like to see the same energy that they place in preserving the wetlands over [by the Central Westchester Parkway] in preventing the flooding and helping residents. Obviously if they're arguing about it, they're conscious of it."
Karen Pasquale, senior advisor to Mayor Thomas Roach, said she would get back to the Daily White Plains about who is resonsible for the drainage system near Cloverdale Avenue and if the city has heard related complaints, however, she did not respond before deadline.
The county is looking into whether Westcehster or White Plains handles the neighborhood's drainage problems, according to Donna Greene, a press representative in County Executive Robert Astorino's office.
Many residents, including Nicole Balsome, 31, who has been seeking advice from attorneys, say both the city and county have been ignoring the neighborhood's problems for years.
"It's been going on for 25 years. Now, Im out of my house for more than a month with my family, relocated, and ripped from my home becuase the county and the city didnt do their jobs. We should never see water coming out of our sewers and into our homes, even during a hurricane or tropical storm," said Balsome, 31, a teacher who was evacuated from her 23 Cloverdale Ave. home Sunday. "We all feel on the block that we need to take them to court...until someone steps up and takes responsibility and fixes the problem because none of us want to move. It's a beautiful family neighborhood."
What are your thoughts on the city and county's handling of the storm? How long have you lived in White Plains? How well do you think the local governments have handled the Cloverdale Avenue's flooding problems? Email thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll include your responses in future coverage.
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