The sewage filling hundreds of basements in Ozone Park smells just as bad as it looks.
Residents woke up to the strong odor early Saturday morning. Some found a few inches of flooding. Others found a few feet.
“My husband was actually down in the basement sleeping in the lounge chair and when he went to go to the bathroom his feet hit water,” said Janice Harmon.
The Department of Environmental Protection says a blockage of a 42 inch sewer main caused the flooding. They're looking into whether grease from holiday celebrations may be to blame.
“This time of year we get a lot of grease blockages in the sewers from residents that discharge grease,” said Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “We are under the assumption it is that, but we are still working to clear it.”
While crews work to clear the blockage, residents are left cleaning up — pumping the sewage, or dumping it from their basements to the street.
DEP says its staff members are helping with the cleanup. But some say it's too little too late, claiming DEP didn't respond until 12 hours after residents first started calling to report the issue.
“This is a holiday weekend. We understand that DEP employees may be away for the holiday, but what happens to people in cases like this?” said Ricardo McKenzie, a local homeowner.
The Red Cross responded to help residents file damage claims.
Crews also helped re-locate some to hotels while the damage is cleaned up.
Officials say water in the neighborhood is safe to drink but residents are being asked to limit their use.
The Office of Emergency Management has set up a service center at P.S. 223.