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Puddle jumping: New report dives into the NYC intersections that flood the most

Flooding on Fourth Avenue and Carroll Street in Brooklyn.

Adam Kuban/Flickr

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On a shopping trip on Sunday in Red Hook, my family got turned around by a puddle that blocked the road between IKEA and Fairway. 

The water stretched from sidewalk to sidewalk, adjacent to an apparently stalled construction site, and since it wasn’t clear how deep it was, and we didn’t want to risk damage to our Zipcar, we detoured around it.

Apparently, this puddle (and puddle is too dinky a word for this amount of water—it was the length of a swimming pool) forms frequently. A parent who drops her children off at a nearby school says that this puddle always appears after a rainstorm. 

But the most surprising thing about it? That it didn’t even make the list of places where New Yorkers most likely complain about street flooding, according to a new report from Localize.city, a website that gives you insights into specific NYC addresses.

That may be because New Yorkers were too busy complaining about other flooding situations, ones that threatened their houses. In fact the number of street-flooding complaints in the city is on the rise, according to Localize’s analysis of 311 data, which looked at specific addresses where complaints are highest, as well as neighborhoods with the most complaints. There were 3,141 complaints about street flooding over 12 months from Oct. 1, 2017, through Sept. 30, 2018, an amount 53 percent higher than the same period four years prior.

Flooding complaints track with rainy weather, and this fall has been wetter than average—November ranked as third-wettest in NYC. Low-lying areas that were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy rank highest on the new report.

Staten Island was the borough most heavily represented on the list with seven neighborhoods in the top 10, including the No. 2 spot, Midland Beach, which saw 60 complaints over 12 months.

“With rising sea levels, storm impacts will be exacerbated over the long term,” says Olivia Jovine, Localize.city urban planner. “Many streets get flooded because the runoff can’t be absorbed. Heavy rainfall often causes sewers to back up into people’s homes, or flow into the city’s rivers and bays."

Localize.city’s top addresses/intersections for street flooding complaints in the past year (Oct. 1, 2017—Sept. 30, 2018)

  • 147-05 and 147-11 259th St., Rosedale: 21
  • 41 and 52 Doty Ave., Arrochar: 17
  • 532 Craig Ave., Tottenville: 14
  • Grimsby Street and Mapleton Avenue, Midland Beach: 13
  • 314 to 347 Beach 84th Street, Rockaways: 13
  • Francis Lewis Boulevard and 231-07 Merrick Blvd., Laurelton: 13
  • Tennyson Drive and 101 Goodall St., Eltingville: 11
  • 144-35 and 144-41 157th St., Springfield Gardens: 11
  • 5260 to 5360 Broadway, Marble Hill: 11
  • 114-36 to 114-48 141th St., South Jamaica: 11

Top 20 neighborhoods for street flooding complaints in the past year (per square mile)

  • Marble Hill, Manhattan: 143
  • Midland Beach, Staten Island: 56.1
  • Stapleton, Staten Island: 44.3
  • Arrochar, Staten Island: 43
  • Midtown South, Manhattan: 40.3
  • Chelsea, Manhattan: 38.2
  • Rosedale, Queens: 34.4
  • Coney Island, Brooklyn: 33.7
  • Far Rockaway, Queens: 33.6
  • Borough Park, Brooklyn: 30.4
  • Eltingville, Staten Island: 28.4
  • Upper West Side, Manhattan: 27.4
  • Oakwood Heights, Staten Island: 24.8
  • Gowanus, Brooklyn: 23.6
  • Laurelton, Queens: 23.1
  • New Springville, Staten Island: 22.8
  • Flatbush, Brooklyn: 22.5
  • St. Albans, Queens: 22.3
  • Dongan Hills, Staten Island: 21.3
  • Pelham Gardens, Bronx: 21.2