4 THE QUEENS COURIER • SEPTEMBER 23, 2021 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Displaced Forest Hills resident seeks fl ood
relief assistance following Hurricane Ida
BY CARLOTTA MOHAMED
Heidi Pashko doesn’t know when she
and her husband will be able to return
to their Forest Hills apartment that was
severely damaged by fl ooding caused by
the remnants of Hurricane Ida that hit
the city two weeks ago.
Following the aft ermath of the historic
storm, Pashko has been staying with her
son in Long Island. Every day, Pashko
and her husband, Ted, commute from
Long Island to Forest Hills to clean up
what is left of their one-bedroom apartment
that they have called home for the
past 45 years on Yellowstone Boulevard.
“We are 67 years old and it’s a lot to
deal with. I have arthritis in my body,
and you can’t live with your children
forever, so we are in a hardship right
now,” Pashko said. “Th e way it’s looking,
once they fi x this apartment I might
have to move back in because I can’t
aff ord to pay $2,000 to $3,000 rent for an
Pashko is a retired school aide and
her husband is currently employed as a
paraprofessional for the NYC Board of
Education. Th e couple recently went on
vacation to celebrate their anniversary,
and they didn’t expect to return to chaos.
When the remnants of Hurricane Ida
pummeled the city with torrential rainfall
on the night of Sept. 1, images were
shared on social media of cars submerged
in fl ooded streets and water
gushing into the subway stations in
In Forest Hills, the commercial corridor
of Austin Street was a river, Pashko
Water had gushed into the couple’s
apartment through the toilet, bathtub,
the front door and kitchen window
with a powerful force, throwing Pashko
across the living room, she said.
“My left shoulder down to my wrist
is bruised black and blue and my right
shoulder as well,” Pashko said. “Every
piece of furniture is destroyed. Th e
couch that was by one wall, landed
on something else. My refrigerator was
wedged and could not be opened.”
When Pashko called 911, she was infuriated
that no one answered the phone,
“This was an emergency and you
didn’t answer the phone? How dare
they … we were up to five feet of
water and you can’t answer the phone?”
Pashko said. “We then called 311
and were still waiting on hold. The
services are horrible.”
According to Pashko, all seven apartments
on the fi rst fl oor of the seven
story building were destroyed, as well as
the apartments above, as water rushed
in from the roof and fi lled the elevators.
Two weeks prior to the storm, the couple
had remodeled their kitchen spending
close to $3,500 on appliances, which
Heidi Pashko’s Forest Hills apartment was severely damaged by fl ooding following the aftermath of Hurricane Ida that brought record rainfall and
fl ooding to the city on Sept. 1.
doesn’t include the new hutch that was
installed, a backsplash and new rugs
purchased last summer, Pashko said.
“Home Depot will not forgive the
credit. Th ey’re only suspending payments
for two months. I said I’m unemployed
and I just retired ... my husband
and I work for the city of New York, but
they didn’t care,” Pasko said, adding that
she and her husband were in the lowest
government income bracket.
While they were able to salvage some
of their items, which have been moved
to a storage facility, Pashko says they
don’t have fl ood insurance since Forest
Hills is not considered a fl ood zone.
Also, protection against property loss
due to fl ooding is typically not covered
under renters and homeowner’s
Th is isn’t the fi rst time the couple has
experienced fl ooding in their apartment.
In August 2007, according to Pashko,
their apartment was fi lled with 4 feet of
water during a short but heavy rainfall.
“You just never forget something like
that,” Pashko said.
Aft er Ida, Pashko described the neighborhood
as a “war zone,” the day aft er
the storm ravaged the borough.
“Everyone was cleaning up and there
were mounds of trash outside. It was sad.
Photos courtesy of Pashko
Everyone is doing what they can do,”
Pashko’s building was cleaned by a
restoration company that removed the
mud and debris and wiped down the
walls, fl oors and furniture in residents’
apartments, she said.
Th e horrible stench in the apartment
has resulted in Pashko developing
a cough, she said. Air purifi ers were
also placed in the apartment to sanitize
the air, which may include pollutants,
allergens and toxins.
“I’m paying for the electricity in the
apartment and I’m not even living here,”
Pashko said. “Th is goes on 24/7.”
While the cleanup continued, Pashko
had visited a service center in Woodside
where personnel from the American
Red Cross provided fl ood relief assistance
to residents impacted by the
Recently, the city collaborated with
FEMA’s disaster recovery centers to provide
resources to New Yorkers eligible
for assistance. Th e service centers
in each borough will be open until
In the meantime, as Pashko awaits her
forms to be processed to receive help, her
sister in Florida has launched a GoFundMe
campaign, and a friend has created an
Amazon wish list for the couple.
“We hope all of the papers went
through. We are looking to move somewhere
else temporarily,” Pashko said.
“We are 67 years old and it’s a lot to deal
with. I have arthritis in my body, and you
can’t live with your children forever, so
we are in a hardship right now. The way
it’s looking, once they fi x this apartment
I might have to move back in because
I can’t aff ord to pay $2,000 to $3,000
rent for an apartment.”
— Heidi Pashko