Living in a big city doesn’t mean that people don’t take care of each other, as the rise and fall of “Lake Lippard” in Glen Park during Thursday’s storm shows.
About 16 neighbors and strangers came together in an impromptu bucket brigade to clear Lippard Street, which flooded in the storm.
After two hours, and one pried up manhole cover, they succeeded.
The street had already flooded once, during Tuesday’s storm.
“We called the Department of Public Works, the Mayor’s office, but no one came to clean out the drains,” said Richard Newhagen, 50, whose garage was inundated. He and others had spent fruitless hours with brooms and shovels trying to clear them themselves.
By 7:00 am Thursday it was clear the two clogged storm drains on the street weren’t doing anything–and the water was rising.
“We just needed to top the water flowing down the street,” he said of the makeshift barrier.
But the rain held up and the waters rose. It got close to flooding Martinez.
Then people started arriving to help out.
“This is just incredible,” he said. “Somehow word got out and all these people showed up.”
That word came in the form of an email to the Glen Park Parents group by Casey Frederico, saying anyone who wanted to could come and join the bucket brigade.
By ones and twos, neighbors showed up with buckets, trash cans, brooms and waders.
They started by carrying buckets to an empty lot down the street. Several used broom handles to try to dislodge whatever was blocking the street’s two storm drains. Neither proved effective.
Then Willie Sparks, who lives a few blocks over, yelled out “Who’s got a crow bar?”
Unfortunately, it was on a slight rise in the street so only some of the water flowed down it.
That didn’t stop the newly-formed work brigade.
Within minutes, 16 people, including children, were busy pushing, pouring and swabbing water into the sewer.
After more than two hours of wet, cold work, the street was cleared.
Later in the afternoon, the neighbors succeeded in prying up the storm drains and scraped out trashcan-fulls of smelly, rotting leaves and muck which had clogged them. It was such dirty work that despite the rain, one brought out a hose to spray down those who had helped.
“This is just amazing,” said Martinez, who said he didn’t know most of the people who’d gotten involved. “They all just pitched in.”