Recent Rains Expose Floating Manhole Cover Hazard

Couple asks the city to take action to better secure manholes after grandmother nearly falls in.

By Chris Glorioso
|  Tuesday, Aug 16, 2011  |  Updated 8:49 AM EDT
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The nonstop rain around our area has locals damp, tired, and frustrated. One woman escaped serious injury when she slipped into an open manhole near Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn. The murky water concealed the gap in the street, hiding the danger beneath to pedestrians. In Staten Island, the rapid waters undermined the soil and created a massive sinkhole on the service road on Narrows Road North. Traffic was diverted while crews worked to fill the street. NBC New York's Chris Glorioso has more on how the soggy summer storm affected our area.

The nonstop rain around our area has locals damp, tired, and frustrated. One woman escaped serious injury when she slipped into an open manhole near Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn. The murky water concealed the gap in the street, hiding the danger beneath to pedestrians. In Staten Island, the rapid waters undermined the soil and created a massive sinkhole on the service road on Narrows Road North. Traffic was diverted while crews worked to fill the street. NBC New York's Chris Glorioso has more on how the soggy summer storm affected our area.

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After a furious downpour in Park Slope last Tuesday, the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Carroll Street was flooded up to knee level. 

Resident Elaine Siccone tried to cross the street at the crosswalk, but two steps into the soggy trip, her left leg made a scary plunge into an uncovered manhole.

"I'm haunted by the idea that had I been walking with my 7-year-old granddaughter and she'd been the one whose foot went in first, the rest of her might very well have followed," Siccone said.

The nimble grandmother was checked out at Methodist Hospital and released with a nasty bruise on her thigh. 

Now she and her husband are imploring the city to better secure manhole covers so they don't float away so easily when the sewers under Fourth Avenue overflow.

New York City's Department of Environmental Protection is responsible for the upkeep of most manhole covers in the five boroughs.

Farrell Sklerov, a DEP spokesman, said there is no quick fix for the problem of floating manhole covers on the busy roadway. 

If the metal discs were more securely welded to the ground, Sklerov says excess rainwater would back up into people's toilets.

The DEP has a long-term sewer expansion slated for Fourth Avenue, but construction on the project is not slated to begin until 2014.

In the meantime, pedestrians who find themselves caught on Fourth Avenue during a flash flood are advised to call 311 and find an alternate route. 

"Pedestrians and motorists should use caution and look for alternative routes when encountering an area with significant flooding," said Sklerov.
 

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