City Bails Out After Downpour

Rebecca Turcio PhotoThomas MacMillan PhotoAs Gabriella Reyes stopped by the Board of Ed offices on Meadow Street to bring her friend a buffalo chicken sandwich, she noticed it started to rain. Before she knew it, she was up to her waist in water, watching her car float down the street.

Reyes (at left in photo) was one of many who got soaked Friday afternoon as torrential rain caused waters to rise throughout town.

Rain began lashing down at around 3 p.m., causing streets and basements to flood and manholes covers to float up and off their holes.

The city sent work crews out to clear catch basins and fix manhole covers.

At about 3:45, the rain stopped as suddenly as it began, giving way to sunny skies. In the aftermath, as waters receded, Reyes and others surveyed their stranded cars or bailed out their vehicles after having them towed to dry ground.

City workers and police officers responded to reports of sinkholes around town.

Lisa Mack (pictured), who works in the human resources department at the Board of Ed, stood in her bare feet by the parking garage at the corner of Meadow Street and Union Ave. She peered in woefully at her partially submerged silver Land Rover, parked on the garage’s bottom level.

She said she’d been in the Board of Ed offices next door when the rain started. Everyone started looking out the window and she was alarmed to find that the street was flooding. Mack said she rushed outside, pulled off her shoes and rolled up her pants to try to wade through the water to get to her SUV (pictured).

She couldn’t get there. “It’s like thigh deep!” she said, wet grass stuck to her gold-painted toe nails.

The water looked like it was over the door line in the car, Mack lamented. She said she was just hoping the water didn’t seep inside.

On the other side of the garage, on a flooded South Orange Street (pictured), Reyes was in a similar position, gazing at her partially submerged silver Mitsubishi Eclipse.

Reyes, who’s 20, said she had stopped by the Board of Ed to bring her friend Alexis Ravis a Subway sandwich. In the break room, they noticed it was raining very heavily and the street was flooding.

“I came out to try to move it, but it was too late,” Reyes (pictured with her silver car) said. She was soaked to the waist, having waded towards her car, only to find it had come unmoored from the pavement and was floating in the street.

“My car’s done for, I’m sure,” moaned Reyes. She said she needs it to get to her job at IHOP, where she had just called in to let her boss know she’d be late.

Nearby, Stephanie Pajak had already pulled her car out of the flood waters. The 20-year-old intern at the police department was bailing out her Pontiac with the help of Officer Rob Perry.

At the Church Street South housing complex, several dirt-bikers were taking advantage of the muddy conditions to tear around a central courtyard, cheerfully spraying sod on onlookers.

On Church Street in front of City Hall, Department of Public Works staffers Dave Lawlor and Mario Anes had cordoned off a sinkhole. Lawlor said the city would be putting a metal plate over it and “assessing it on Monday.”

Rob Smuts, city chief administrative officer, said at 5:55 p.m. that the flooding in town had largely receded.

“It was a pretty intense storm while it lasted,” he said.

Deluge!

Melissa Bailey Photo

Starting at around 3 p.m., reports started pouring in over the police radio of flooding across the city.

Chris Heitmann PhotoChris Heitmann, head of the Westville Village Renaissance Alliance, posted this photo of a flooded West Rock Avenue in Westville.

“View from the office,” he wrote. “Anyone have a boat?”

Police radioed about heavy flooding on Meadow Street, near the police station. Cops sent out a warning not to drive through the intersection of Union and Meadow.

Manhole covers were lifting off around town, caused by rising water.

Cars were reportedly stuck at Munson and Sherman, due to flooding.

Whitney and Sachem were “almost impassible,” according to one officer. The water was “over the doors of some of the cars.”

Reached by phone at 3:30 p.m., police spokesman Officer Dave Hartman said he and Officer Roy Davis had just pulled two people out of a car and utility van that were nearly completely underwater.

Rebecca Turcio PhotoThe two drivers had gotten stuck at the underpass on Lombard Street near James Street, he said.

“I’m soaked,” Hartman said.

Rebecca Turcio PhotoDepartment of Public Works employee Honda Smith tended to flooding at Lombard and James, where a manhole cover turned into a fountain.

Melissa Bailey PhotoWhen a CT Transit bus plowed through high waters at the corner of State and Elm, waves lapped up against the Kumo sushi restaurant.

“We’re getting a deluge of calls from a bunch of different sources,” said Smuts at 3:30 p.m. “We’ve had lots of reports of flooding in basements.”

The most significant flooding was on Blatchley Avenue between Lombard and Pine in Fair Haven, he said.

Crews were out clearing catch basins and putting back manhole covers, Smuts said.

Yale police were heard over the radio discussing flooding in their police station.

Another report over the radio was of a sinkhole in the parking lot at 100 Church Street South.

By 3:40 p.m., the rain had subsided and the sun began to come out.

Erin Gustafson Photo

Lily Engbith Photo

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posted by: Edward Francis on August 10, 2012  6:28pm

“At the Church Street South housing complex, several dirt-bikers were taking advantage of the muddy conditions to tear around a central courtyard, cheerfully spraying sod on onlookers.”

What a disgraceful behavior. Destroying landscaped property in plain view at the expense of others. The three should be identified and their dirtbikes confiscated.

posted by: Stephen Harris on August 11, 2012  1:25pm

We had a tropical downpour just a few minutes ago. With all that water falling out of the sky you’d think the humidity would go down a bit. No such luck. I can’t wait for October.

posted by: Wildwest on August 11, 2012  1:57pm

I’m with you on that Edward Francis, the photo is just one of many out there that prove how out of control this city is. Maybe Mayor John will tell us soon that even though some things are illegal and annoying & dangerous to almost all tax paying citizens it is still lots of fun.

posted by: just my view on August 11, 2012  4:17pm

Yup… let’s take down the fence between Brookside and Hamden so this can happen on the neighbors lawns up there.

posted by: anonymous on August 12, 2012  10:04am

Edward Francis is absolutely correct. We need a citywide initiative to deal with that problem.

posted by: hrsn on August 12, 2012  5:16pm

I was going to comment on the Church Street South photo, but then I see all of you have. The peoples’ property being “used” by the people. It would only be fun if they cleaned up afterwards and restored as best they could. Without that, it’s just vandalism.

posted by: NHInsider on August 12, 2012  8:57pm

What is it going to take to get this problem fixed? 54 Meadow (Board of Ed) and Church St. South always flood-trapping those of us who work there. Many staff have had their cars damaged-though I feel sorry for Ms.Best that no one warned her not to park in our private parking area any day that predicts rain. It is below sea level and if it is a high tide and the storm drains are blocked the lower parking garage, Church St.So. and Union Ave flood in a matter of minutes. I also caution folks not to wade through that water. When it recedes we find dead rats,and sewage that stinks for days.  It is also mind blowing that people try to drive through the flooded streets-do you really think you will make it through 3 feet of water? This area needs to be looked at by the City and a remedy needs to be put in place immediately.

posted by: Christopher Schaefer on August 13, 2012  5:33am

The area around Union Ave. has a chronic problem with flooding—because that used to be the northern bank of New Haven Harbor! The area was filled long ago, but the high groundwater still is there: http://www.citypointnewhavenconnecticut.net/historic_maps

posted by: robn on August 13, 2012  8:30am

Maybe the police should search these garages for the offending dirt bikes.

http://goo.gl/maps/yc2Wh

posted by: Long Time NH Resident on August 13, 2012  11:26am

Did anyone notice what happened when RT 34 was closed at Church Street. A sign of things to come. The streets aren’t going to get any bigger and this was coming INTO town off-peak. GRIDLOCK.

Oh yeah and you got a picture of illegal dirt biker riders and the cops can’t find these people. another sign of lack of community from our wonderful selective enforcement department.