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Heavy rains knocked out F-train service in a fluke outage that inconvenienced tens of thousands of evening commuters on Monday night — and flooded Fourth Avenue just like it always does.
The ongoing lack of drainage near Carroll Street caused garbage-strewn water to rise more than a foot — high enough to float a car — damaging several vehicles, businesses, and homes.
“The community has been complaining about this for a century,” said Michele Giancola, owner of the constantly flooded Root Hill Café.
Giancola and her neighbors have to sandbag their doorways during storms to keep out the water, which gets backed up due to a dysfunctional drainage system.
Faulty catch basins — which keep debris from flowing into the sewer, but also retard the flow of water — are partially to blame, said Giancola.
The Department of Environmental Protection has said it will improve the catch basins within two years, but the city’s antiquated, overburdened sewer system — which mixes rainwater with household runoff — lies at the root of the problem. The department has no plans to address that.
“There’s still not a physical plan of action,” Giancola said. “The city needs to think of a solution.”
An agency spokeswoman said that the city “is investigating the causes of this condition, and is continuing to explore some improvements that can be made.”
Meanwhile, a few blocks to the south, the floodwaters played havoc with the elevated portion of the F line at Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street.
Service was out in both directions between 9 pm and 10:30 pm after rain shorted out the third rail, an MTA spokesman said. Straphangers were far more expansive in their explanation of the problem.
“It was a complete disaster,” said one commuter, who was forced off the Coney Island-bound F train at the Jay Street-Borough Hall with hundreds of other riders. Bus service to points south was slow in coming.
“Everybody had to find a new way home — but the B67 never came,” said the rider. “People were really upset.”
The MTA spokesman, Charles Seaton, said that the rain-caused outage was a one-time thing.
“There is no indication that this was anything other than an isolated incident,” said MTA spokesman Charles Seaton.
Isolated, indeed — the storm even included hail as big as ping-pong balls.
“I saw people making snowballs!” said photographer John van Pamer, who was driving home when the freakish hit.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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