ALBANY, N.Y. – Many Albany residents came out to a meeting Monday night to vent their frustrations to city officials after recent flooding.
A lot of rain fell in a short period of time on August 5 flooding many streets, homes and cars in the city of Albany.
“And then we just bailed,” resident Karen Gutta recalled. “We bailed and bailed and bailed and bailed.”
Many residents echoed her sentiment Monday night.
“We have lost items both materially and emotionally irreplaceable,” Kimberly Williams said.
About 100 people met with the Albany Water Department and Mayor Kathy Sheehan at New Scotland Elementary School where the meeting took place.
The city said an old sewer system was to blame. But residents said now is the time for the city to make changes that will prevent similar flooding from happening again.
“I don’t think you grasp the severity and the frequency of the flooding,” landlord Luigi Benincasa said.
Sheehan admitted heavy rain was becoming more frequent.
“The reality is that these heavy rain events are becoming more the norm,” she said.
The city said it has been working to fix what it considers the two main issues: flooding and back-up.
“I hear the same solutions that haven’t worked in the past,” Benincasa said.
City workers have been installing storm water storage tanks and other systems to alleviate the flooding. But for Benincasa, it’s not working.
“I think those who know, know they’re not going to work in the future,” he said.
Benincasa lost his car and two of his rental units when flash flooding inundated Elberon Place.
“Now I have to make due with two less apartments to try and pay the mortgage,” he said.
While he’s happy the city is interested in fixing a problem that has been centuries in the making, he’s discouraged city leaders admit they can’t stop the next big flood.
“Is it going to prevent flooding in a 100-year event? No,” Water Department Commissioner Joe Coffey Jr. said.
Benincasa believes the city should take more responsibility.
“By placing blame on a 100-year storm, act of God or ancient sewer system, I think that has to stop,” he said. “And I think somebody needs to take ownership.”
The city wants residents to write and document any flooding and back-up problems. They hope to learn if previous fixes have worked and what action needs to be taken to prevent similar instances in the future.