County's help leaves water in back yard, homeowner drained

April 01, 1994|By Jody Roesler | Jody Roesler,Special to The Sun

William Turner called the county last week to fix the standing water problem in front of his house on Luke Drive.

The water is no longer standing in the street. It's now in his back yard, by way of his basement.

After Mr. Turner's call, county workers sized up the problem and installed a French drain -- a buried pipe with holes and a storm grate in it that collects ground water and disperses it.

"That gave all that water a place to run to," said Mr. Turner, 33. "But the land here is all sand, and like a beach when the tide comes in, it sucks water up like a sponge."

The drain got a workout right away, courtesy of 3 inches of rain that fell on the Lake Shore neighborhood.

The water seeped closer to the house and was drawn into the smaller drainage pipe that feeds the two new sump pumps in Mr. Turner's basement.

He said that his pumps were "overwhelmed" and that his basement filled with 6 inches of water, which ruined the carpeting and furniture.

The sump pumps emptied the water into the back yard, creating a 2-foot-deep moat around his above-ground pool.

"I've got a lake in the back yard with a 24-foot [-wide] pool in the middle, and I'm afraid it's going to collapse out there," Mr. Turner said.

The waters are receding, some of it draining from his property, but some is seeping back into Mr. Turner's basement.

What's left are patches of oatmeal-colored goo that swallow 2 feet of a fence post before firm ground is reached.

"I had on hip boots and sunk to my waist out back," Mr. Turner said. "In places, it's like quicksand out there."

Mr. Turner estimated his damages at $2,000. His two children, ages 6 and 9, have been unable to play in the back yard because their swing set is marooned in 18 inches of water. And Mr. Turner, who is a construction coordinator at Mount Sinai Hospital, has been out of work all week trying to correct the problem.

County workers came back Monday and dug up the drain after Mr. Turner's pleas for help.

"They said they would level the mound of dirt left from the digging, but they won't do anything about my back yard and won't fix the road," he said.

"One man asked me if I wanted a flooded road or a flooded basement," he added. "I say neither one."

The county says it's not unsympathetic to Mr. Turner's problem.

"This is a situation where Public Works doesn't work outside the county [on private property] right away," said Lisa Ritter, spokeswoman for the department.

"We need to see if the initial reso- lution of the problem was accurate, and, if not, take corrective steps to alleviate Mr. Turner's problem because we don't want an unhappy customer," she said.

Ms. Ritter said she is arranging a meeting at Mr. Turner's house with Public Works Director John Brusnighan and Darryl Hockstra, bureau chief of highways and parks maintenance.

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