The City of Yonkers was gripped by a state of emergency as torrential rain inundated the region, causing widespread flooding. The overflow of the Saw Mill River submerged streets, homes, and public spaces, prompting swift response efforts from local authorities.
The Yonkers Fire Department sprang into action to extract water from basements near the Sprain Brook Parkway. Capt. Gene Kelly of the Yonkers Fire Department Special Operations lamented the recurring nature of such events. In remarks to ABC News he stated, “Water comes up real quick from the Bronx River, backs into the Sprain, and unfortunately backs into this neighborhood leaving 6, 7, 8 feet of water in these poor people’s basements.”
While Yonkers is no stranger to flooding, previously designated hundred-year flood zones are now experiencing increasingly frequent inundations due to intense rainfall, much like the deluge witnessed on Friday. The situation worsened when a power outage left pumps idle, hindering efforts to control the rising waters.
Yonkers homeowners found themselves grappling with the crisis as water crept into their basements, rendering electrical outlets inaccessible. Across the city, public works crews and firefighters toiled through the night to redirect water away from homes. Yet, the slow receding of floodwaters posed a daunting challenge.
The flooding was not limited to residential areas. Major thoroughfares like the Bronx River Parkway and Saw Mill Parkway also found themselves submerged. Central Avenue turned into a makeshift river, trapping numerous vehicles and necessitating water rescues.
Residents, no strangers to the struggle, have been pleading with elected officials for sustainable solutions. The ongoing crisis has prompted discussions about more substantial and costly protective measures, such as building flood walls.
Response from officials
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano voiced his concern by highlighting the inadequacy of outdated infrastructure.
“It’s just about the amount of rain in that period of time into a system that was designed for weather as it existed 200 years ago. Not weather for 2023.”
His political challenger in this year’s election, City Councilman Anthony Merante, took to Facebook to scold the three-term mayor. After noting the growth of this problem he said, “The extensive ‘wild overbuilding’ by the mayor is pushing our 100-year-old infrastructure to a breaking point.“
As Yonkers grapples with the aftermath of this latest deluge, the increasing frequency of intense rainstorms underscores the urgency of addressing the city’s vulnerability to flooding and the need for forward-looking infrastructure upgrades. The cost-effective merits of such investments may soon outweigh the price of recurring storm damage.