After Ida Storm destroys Inwood’s homes, help is hard to find


DYCKMAN, NY – Hearing the rain, Carla Gomez’s nine-year-old daughter turned to her mother with a question, “Is the apartment going to flood again?”

Gomez and his daughter are chatting in the Dominican Republic. Weeks earlier, they fled their garden apartment in Inwood, along with Gomez’s mother and aunt, as the rain from Hurricane Ida caused the water to rise four feet inside the family home at 200 Nagle Avenue.

“She’s afraid of the rain now,” Gomez told Patch of her daughter.

The Gomez family apartment on Nagle Avenue after the September 1 storm. Photo courtesy of Araina Sepulveda-Moreiras

The family home was one of four apartments below the sidewalk level on Nagle Avenue that was flooded and destroyed on the night of September 1.

A man had to smash a window to escape, a dog survived floating on a sofa, a cat drowned and everything was covered in sewage.

The Gomez fled to the home of a longtime family friend through a sunken interior courtyard that quickly turned into a lake of mud.

“My God, we’ve lost everything and now what will become of us? We have nowhere to go,” Gomez’s aunt Iris told Patch.

Rainwater from September 1 submerged and destroyed Gomez’s beds, kitchen appliances, food, clothing, furniture, documents and work supplies.

The Gomez’s refrigerator overturned inside their apartment after the flood. Photo courtesy of Araina Sepulveda-Moreiras

Gomez had recently arrived in Inwood from the Dominican Republic when the storm hit. In the days following the floods, she made the difficult decision to return with her daughter to the Dominican Republic.

“It’s hard to be homeless with a girl starting school,” she told Patch.

As the Gomezes sought refuge with their neighbor on the night of September 1, Ramon was fighting for his life a door at 198 Nagle Avenue.

Like the Gomez family, Ramon, identified only by first name, also lives in a basement apartment, which means his house is below sidewalk level.

His apartment had filled with water – unable to get through the front door because of the flooding, he had no choice but to smash a window to escape, neighbors said.

Although he was able to drag his dog with him, who previously floated on a sofa, he was unable to save his cat from drowning.

The results

As Gomez and her daughter returned to the Dominican Republic, many other Nagle residents who were left homeless after the storm made contact with neighbors.

The rest of the Gomez family went to live with Araina Sepulveda-Moreiras’ stepmother, whose house they ran across the yard until the night of the storm.

The families are longtime friends, and Araina and her sons have done their best to help the Gomezs, including cleaning up the apartment at 200 Nagle Avenue.

“These are really humble families. They don’t ask for anything. There was a tin can that was just covered in gunk and I went to throw it away and she said ‘no, no, no’, that’s food. that we can ‘Don’t throw away, we’ll clean this up,’ Araina told Patch.

Objects from the Gomez apartment with Ramone’s apartment in the courtyard. Photo credit: Carla Gomez

“It looks like the hurricane happened inside the apartment. Everything was lifted and thrown,” Araina said. “The family cried for days. It’s like PTSD. You barely step out of your life and end up with nothing.”

Lilmor Management is the property management company that acts as the owner of the buildings at 198 and 200 Nagle Avenue.

Araina told Patch that the company refused the Gomez’s request to live in a vacant apartment in the building that had not been damaged by Hurricane Ida.

“They (Lilmor Management) hired a random guy to use a high pressure wash as opposed to a specialized place to get rid of the sewage, and that’s what they did the first time around, they got it. just washed with electricity, the water did it under the bed, but somehow they were able to get the mattresses back from the first rains, ”Araina said.“ But the second rain exceeded 4 feet in the apartment – so nothing was salvageable. “

A destroyed bed in the Gomez apartment. Photo courtesy of Araina Sepulveda-Moreiras

Araina’s “first time” mention refers to the July 8 rainstorm that inundated Washington Heights and Inwood. Gomez, his aunt Iris and Ramon all confirmed to Patch that their apartments had also been flooded by the start of summer date.

“Nothing, absolutely nothing,” Iris said when Patch asked if the building management company was helping other than electric washing the apartment at 200 Nagle Avenue.

Lilmor Management did not respond to several calls and an email from Patch.

The government’s response

Local governments in the Bronx, Queens, Kings, Richmond, Westchester, Suffolk and Sullivan County are eligible for federal assistance following the flooding caused by Hurricane Ida.

Manhattan, which overall was not as badly affected by the storm as the areas above, does not.

Although Manhattan was not on the list of counties that could receive FEMA money for Hurricane Ida, Governor Kathy Hochul visited Inwood on the Saturday after the storm to assess the damage in the neighborhood with local politicians.

“We will make sure our neighbors get the help they need,” Hochul wrote in a tweet about the day.

“There was no help from anyone in the government, just we cleaned everything up and stayed with the neighbors,” Gomez told Patch.

The Hochul office did not respond to Patch’s request to comment on Inwood residents’ frustration with the lack of government assistance.

Representative Adriano Espaillat’s office responded to Patch’s request for comment, however.

Here is the full response from a spokesperson in the Members of Congress office.

Earlier this month, Congressman Espaillat joined New York Governor Hochul, New York City Council Member Mark Levine, New York State Assembly Member Carmen De La Rosa and others to assess the impact of Hurricane Ida on her district and saw first-hand the devastation and impact on families.

“He led a bipartisan letter to leaders of the House Appropriations Committee, of which he is a member, urging legislation to provide as much federal funding as possible to New York City and continues to work collaboratively with federal agencies, states and community partners. premises, to help support ongoing cleanup efforts.

“Our office is working with a number of constituents who have reached out after the storm and our team is helping them navigate the process of requesting federal assistance and use the federal and state resources available to them during these efforts. recovery in progress. “

Twenty days after the storm, the Gomezs are still busy cleaning the apartment at 200 Nagle Avenue.

“Something more has to happen,” Araina told Patch. “It is not enough that only my family is there for them. I cannot replace three bedrooms, a dining room, a living room, their yard.”

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