Local Businesses Aid Flood Relief Workers
Four area funeral homes joined forces to provide food and coffee to workers from city agencies and other organizations assisting in the cleanup after a 20-inch water main broke and flooded houses along a stretch of Ditmars Boulevard Feb. 16. Sean Anderson, general manager of Thomas M. Quinn & Sons Inc., with David Funeral Home, both at 35-20 Broadway, and Michael Heredia, manager of Angerame and Basis Funeral Homes, 21-12 23rd Avenue, through a local delicatessen provided sandwiches for lunch and hot food for dinner for police and fire-fighters and workers from the city Office of Emergency Management, Department of Environmental Protection, the mayor’s Community Assistance Unit as well as Consolidated Edison workers and Red Cross volunteers.
The workers used Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church at Hazen Street and Ditmars Boulevard as their headquarters. The church sustained almost no damage in the flood that occurred when a water main broke in the course of excavation work in the area. “We were blessed,” the Rev. Rosalind Brathwaite, pastor of the church, declared.
“Rev. Brathwaite helped all day long,” Anderson said. “They had heat and hot water and gave the workers a place to take breaks and eat.”
Aiding the relief efforts arose from a sense of belonging to the neighborhood, Anderson said. “I was born and raised in this community and I still live here. I wanted to give something back and this seemed like an excellent opportunity,” he declared. Heredia agreed. “We felt helping the people who are helping the neighborhood was fitting and appropriate,” he said.
How the water main under the street ruptured, spilling millions of gallons of water and flooding 20 to 50 homes in a five-square-block area is under investigation. A backhoe operator employed by Balkan Sewer & Water Main Service, a private plumbing company, was digging a water line trench for a new home at 70th Street and Ditmars Boulevard, leading to speculation that the main might have been damaged in the course of the digging. David Balkan, co-owner of the company denied that the water main damage was due to the backhoe operations. --Linda J. Wilson