The city finally cut a check to a 72nd Street couple for flooding their basement with water after city workers let a rogue hydrant flow for 14 hours in September 2014. The waterlogged couple is glad their repayment finally landed — even if it took more than a year, one of the Ridgites said.
“I’m happy that it was finalized and we did get something — it was dragging out so long I didn’t think anything would come of it,” Natalie Iwanicki said.
The couple credits local leader Liam McCabe — a then-staffer for disgraced Rep. Michael Grimm who now works for Rep. Dan Donovan (R–Bay Ridge) — and a photographer from this paper for helping push their reimbursement claim through the comptroller’s office.“Without him, I don’t think it would have been done. Georgine helped too,” Iwanicki said, referring to ace Courier Life photographer Georgine Benvenuto, who called McCabe to help stop the madness on the night of the flash flood.
The fiasco started when firefighters opened a hydrant for a routine test on a Friday afternoon but could not shut it down. The Department of Environmental Protection cut a hole in the sidewalk to get to a cutoff valve, but found no valve had been installed — so they just left. Water filled the hole and eroded its way into the Iwanicki’s basement, flooding it with about a foot of water.
The Iwanickis called 911 and 311, but it became clear that a speedy response was not coming when clocks rolled over at midnight that Saturday. Benvenuto found out about the flood and called McCabe, who ran over from his home a few blocks away and made calls to get city workers to finally turn off the tap.
The ordeal was not over though — the Iwanicki’s basement repairs cost them thousands of dollars, and the family deserved help from the city, McCabe said.
“At that point, I recognized that the city failed her by not connecting the dots,” he said. “There were issues with the sewer, the hydrant, and the way the street was repaved added to the fact that this was eventually going to happen.”
The city cut them a check for less than they asked for, but the Iwanickis are happy their business with the city is over, they said.