Many residents moved to Florida Street to be near the beach. But nobody expected that the beach would come to them as their residential block has been inundated with sand and water.
Last month, after replacing an underground gas main, National Grid resurfaced the road and apparently dumped truckloads of sand on the West End street, creating in some spots mini-sand dunes, residents said. The addition of the blacktop on top of existing concrete raised the level of the road, causing pools of water during heavy rainfall, they added.
The materials have combined to clog drains and some residents have reported flooding in their basements and garages. They also complained that the sand, which they believe may have been used to cover up the problem, has made the road extremely slippery for motorists and pedestrians.
"People never before had water in their garages and basements, and now all of a sudden they are getting rain water because the water has nowhere to go,” said Anthony Eramo, who has lived on Florida Street for eight
Eramo launched a petition drive on Friday, June 15, urging city officials “to address the issues, damages and future problems created by the National Grid.”
Residents presented the petition bearing 60 signatures to the City Council last week.
“Now the taxpayers are going to have to pay for the shoddy work by National Grid’s contractors,” said Eramo.
Jim LaCarrubba, Long Beach’s commissioner for the Department of Public Works, said the city will tackle the problem around the middle of this week after crews finish up a project on Neptune Boulevard. The cost of the Florida Street cleanup, which will take about two weeks, will come out of the existing city budget, LaCarrubba said.
The bill will be passed along to National Grid if the city determines the drainage problems were caused by the utility.
“As a result of the construction, the gutters got compacted,” LaCarrubba explained. “It will be a process of digging out the gutters. It’s taking a lot longer to drain because it’s compacted.
“If we create a much more permeable surface, it should alleviate the problem.”
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Residents said they hope city officials will keep their promise and make the cleanup a priority.
“This block used to drain great,” said Thomas Glass, a Florida Street resident since 1999. “It has been flooding in a lot of places
it never did before.
“If you don’t mind sand in your house and your bed, it’s great,” added Glass, who signed the petition. “I always wanted to live next to the beach but not like this. There’s sand all over the place. You track it in the house.”
Eramo said the gas main needed to be replaced because several gas leaks have been reported in recent years, and Hurricane Irene may have caused damage to the main.
All gas service connections to Florida Street homes were replaced in late March and early April and meters were moved from the inside to the outside of the homes.
“We asked National Grid if they were interested in overlaying the entire street,” LaCarrubba said. “It was not a major road reconstruction project. They just put in a couple of inches of asphalt and the road is in much better condition than it was before. But it left some issues with drainage.”
Residents said the road resurfacing left a gap several inches wide between the road and the wall of the sidewalk so sand was used to apparently fill in the gaps. As a result, the clogged gutters have been “rendered useless,” creating drainage problems.
Residents said the roadwork was “substandard,” with the blacktop breaking loose in the roadway and crumbling at the edges from cars
moving in and out of driveways and parking close to the curb.
According to the petition, possible solutions include requiring National Grid to remove the sand, install storm rains, re-do and raise sidewalks and re-grade the entire street.
A spokesperson for National Grid did not return a call for comment.