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Elmsford Businessmen Angry Over Flooding

ELMSFORD, N.Y. -- From afar, Luigi Guida looked like a small figure surrounded by water. Standing next to the open door of his deserted restaurant, a hand on the handle and another on his hip, he stared at the giant pool that covered his parking lot, flooded during Tropical Storm Irene.

“It sucks, but it’s Mother Nature. There’s nothing we can do about it,” he shouted with an unconvincing smile.

But soon he became serious and revealed his other thoughts.

“They should find some kind of solution. There are so many businesses down here,” he said.

Guida, the owner of Casaletto Ristorante on South Central Avenue, was one of the many businessmen in Elmsford who had his businesses flooded during Sunday’s storm, which left part of Saw Mill River Road, Nepperhan Avenue and the surrounding streets entirely underwater.

For some Elmsford locals, like Guida, they are used to frequent flooding in the area. But Irene’s aftermath has released further fury for those who say they feel the government has not properly assessed the problem.

“All these businesses, they all suffer and the government doesn’t do anything about it,” Guida said.

A half-mile north on Central Avenue, at the corner with Havens Street, Levent Zulfikar was also angry. His gas station was spared, but the surrounding flooded streets meant he had no business.

“From last night until now, no customer at all. And it’s probably going to be Monday and Tuesday too,” he said. 

Like Guida, Zulfikar highlighted how the constant floods hurt the many businesses in the area. He mentioned two car dealerships that left because of the problem.

“You pay the rent, employees, electricity,” he said. “And you get this out of it.”

Down one block on Havens Street, two other men came to check on their businesses Sunday afternoon, and both were dismayed with what they found.

“It’s bad,” said Bill Lifrieri, in shorts and boots, after coming out of the flooded building where he runs a restoration company.

Tom Avezzano, president of the All Pro next door, also a restoration company, arrived shortly after. On his way out, his phone rang.

“Totally screwed,” he said to the person on the other end. “My warehouse has four feet of water.”

Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner blamed the U.S. Army Corps, which he said has been studying the problem for many years without taking any action. Now the town has opened a request for proposal from consultants “to come up with a plan so that the town could implement small scale flood relief improvements,” Feiner wrote in a recent message. A copy of the proposal can be found in the town’s website.

“A small scale flood improvement project(s) won’t solve the flooding problem but it will reduce flooding,” Feiner wrote.

In the meantime, Elmsford businessmen will have to keep dealing with the floods.

“This is a very busy area. It’s not like we are in the middle of nowhere,” Zulfikar said.

Others, however, see it a little differently.

“We are a God forgotten land,” said Glenn Preiser, owner of a towing company at Nepperhan Avenue. 


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