South Valley Stream has been allotted $3 million in funds by New York state to improve the community’s infrastructure in order to prevent damage from future storms. Next week, residents will get to weigh in on how they think that money should be spent.
The South Valley Stream Community Reconstruction Zone planning committee has already held two meetings at the Forest Road School, most recently on Sept. 30. Members have shared their ideas about ways to avoid the type of destruction that Superstorm Sandy caused last year. The CRZ includes Mill Brook, the neighborhood around South High School, and the section of North Woodmere around Ogden Elementary School.
Several creeks run through or near these neighborhoods. During the storm, the streams overflowed because of the tidal surge, and dozens of homes were damaged. Parts of Mill Brook were without power for nearly two months.
Committee members say the bulkheads along the creeks need to be addressed. Several are damaged or missing altogether, noted Marc Tenzer, president of the Mill Brook Civic Association and chairman of the CRZ. Tenzer suggested that the cost of repairing the bulkheads, specifically along the banks of Brook Road Park, be borne by the Town of Hempstead rather than the state.
Niek Veraart, the director of environmental planning for the Louis Berger Group, said that bulkheads provide protection during storms, but during Sandy, he added, the water probably would have spilled over them anyway.
Zavida Mangaru, a member of the CRZ, said that Sandy’s floodwaters inundated her Southgate Drive home from three different directions, and that bulkheads have deteriorated to the point that during high tide, water routinely rises into her backyard.
Veraart noted that South Valley Stream is in a unique and difficult position because of its location. In a major storm, it gets hits from both sides. Water comes up from a number of creeks to the south, and there is runoff from the Green Acres Mall to the north, whose large parking lots leave nowhere for the water to go. “When we’re looking at ways to solve the problem, we have to look at both aspects,” he said.