Congressman Hakeem Jeffries

Representing the 8th District of New York

Canarsie Courier: Congressman Vows To Help Protect Our Shoreline

Sep 20, 2013
In The News

Many dream of owning a waterfront home. The peacefulness, the serene environment and the tranquility of being away from overcrowded residential blocks sounds perfect. However, for those living in Canarsie on waterfront properties, the luxury of waking up by water has become a potential nightmare following Hurricane Sandy.

The storm, which wiped out hundreds of thousands of homes almost a year ago, sent tidal waves from the Atlantic Ocean into Jamaica Bay and then into Fresh Creek, which runs parallel to East 108th Street. Water rushed into the streets and overwhelmed catch basins, resulting in sewage water backing up into homes. The resulting damage displaced many residents who had over six feet of water in their homes. Now, for many homeowners, Fresh Creek is a sleeping monster and conditions along the shoreline are worsening as soil erosion becomes a major problem.

In an effort to come up with a plan to protect the shoreline, in the event of another storm, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries took a brief walking tour of Fresh Creek at East 108th Street and Avenue M Saturday afternoon. Resident and activist Maria Garrett, whose home is located near the creek, asked for the congressman’s help in finding both long- and short-term solutions to help prevent – or minimize – erosion along the creek.

“The Army Corps of Engineers are already studying the three bodies of water that surround Canarsie,” he said, referring to Paerdegat Basin, Jamaica Bay along the Belt Parkway and Fresh Creek. “The long-term resiliency plan of protection has already been proposed, but this is a beautiful community and we have to come up with something short-term even though it hasn’t been an active hurricane season.”

Physically, Jeffries said, a seawall can be built where the Atlantic Ocean meets the bay – a measure which Mayor Michael Bloomberg has recommended for waterfront communities following the hurricane.

However, rebuilding natural barriers is more feasible as an immediate solution. Rocks along the creek end right along the water’s edge instead of gradually sloping down on a long angle, which helps keep the tide further out towards the inlet.

Garrett pointed to a tree along the creek whose roots are exposed. “If we can see the roots of this tree and ground soil is slowly disappearing, what does that mean for our homes and how safe are we in the event that another storm comes?”

The resident is also upset that the Parks Department is more concerned about cleaning up and planting trees at the northern end of the creek, claiming the city has abandoned the rest of the area. Even though Young Israel of Canarsie is responsible for a portion of the land near the creek, there are wooden barricades almost 100 feet outside of the Yeshiva, creating boundaries between the privately owned space and the space which the Parks Department is supposed to maintain.

Jeffries promised to reach out to the city and the Army Corps of Engineers to evaluate conditions along the creek so that homes and foundations remain stable and the damage from potential future storms is minimal.