The city is about to spend nearly $50 million to help alleviate flooding on Staten Island's South Shore by using its unique access to natural wetlands. NY1's Anthony Pascale filed the following report.
Even the threat of rain is enough to get Woodrow resident Michael Iacono concerned.
"If you come here tomorrow after we get a big storm, this whole area is underwater," Iacono pointed out.
He says flooding in the neighborhood has long been a problem.
"The yards and everything get flooded because the drainage is poor, they overdeveloped the area so without sewers it's kind of rough," Iacono said.
But Iacono says he's happy to know relief is on the way. The city announced a plan Monday to add catch basins and storm sewers to several Woodrow streets and allow 600 homeowners to get rid of their septic tanks and connect to the city's sewer system.
"Ah, that's good. I've been here 35 years and when I moved in here I built this house, they told me I'd be in the sewer two years from then," Leroy Metzger, a Woodrow homeowner.
The $48 million project would expand the Staten Island Bluebelt, a complex system that uses nature to drain stormwater. Sewers carry the water to wetlands, which naturally filter it and eventually discharge it into area waterways.
"Well these were really pioneered on Staten Island and it has to do with the grade and the fact that there's still some greenspace left because it's not as densely developed as other parts of the city so it's a really natural place to use this kind of drainage," said DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd.
Bluebelts are not new on Staten Island. There are actually 60 of them already on the South Shore alone. This latest one will be the largest until later this year when another is constructed to help mid-Island residents.
"Years ago people were very skittish of the Bluebelt. Now we see when people are selling homes they're saying we're by the Bluebelt and that's actually raising their property values because you have a more natural area and an area that doesn't flood so the success is here and we need to continue to implement this," said City Councilman Vincent Ignizio.
Work on the latest Blubelt is expected to be complete in the fall of 2017.