Residents Of Flooded Areas Unite In Demand For Control
Measures; Some Will Press Legal Proceedings.
150 residents of the Larchmont and Mamaroneck postal
areas attended a mass meeting Saturday afternoon at
the Weaver Street Firehouse and unanimously voted
to form a flood protective association.
Elfenbein of 47 West Brookside Drive, Town, was elected
chairman of the meeting and spoke at length on the
conditions suffered by the people whose homes are
in the Sheldrake and Mamaroneck River basins.
the close of Mr. Elfenbein’s statement of conditions,
Alfred Stoddard of 14 East Brookside Drive, Town,
moved that there be formed a “Mamaroneck Flood
Protection Association” to be chartered by the
State of New York as a permanent organization to protect
the property and health interests of flood victims
and potential victims and to protect the future security
and health of all people living in the area in which
the Sheldrake and Mamaroneck Rivers constitute a potential
and actual menace. This will include not only homeowners
and householders but also commercial interests.”
meeting was then thrown open for discussion, but Mr.
Elfenbein had previously stated that “we’re
not here to discuss individual complaints nor to file
petitions of protest but to form a strong protective
association for the present and future.” There
was little discussion of the motion, therefore, and
Austin K. Griffin of 826 Soundview Drive, Mamaroneck,
moved that a vote be taken.
were passed out to be signed by all persons willing
to pledge “support and cooperation to the Mamaroneck
Flood Protective association” and “to
join its membership and subscribe to its objectives,”
Mr. Elfenbein asked that all persons who wished to
take the cards home, mail them as soon as they were
filled out to him at 47 West Brookside Drive, Town.
people said they would hold the cards pending their
signature until the suit be associated him was renamed
“Larchmont-Mamaroneck Flood Protective Association.”
Mr. Elfenbein said that the association would work
for the protection of all flood sufferers in the area
whether in the Town of Mamaroneck, or the Villages
of Larchmont and Mamaroneck. They received 79 signed
cards before the meeting closed, many of them representing
the joint signature of a husband and wife.
meeting was called to order shortly after 3:00 P.M.
by Anthony Russo, acting vice president of the Larchmont
Gardens Association, who described the efforts made
by the Association in the past to cooperate with the
Village to obtain a government survey of conditions.
He declared that the meeting had been called for the
purpose of organizing the people for action and asked
that a chairman be elected to lead the meeting. John
King of North Brook Road, Town, nominated Mr. Elfenbein,
chairman of the flood committee for the Larchmont
Gardens Association. Miss Lillian Venezia of 618 Van
Ranst Place, Mamaroneck, volunteered to act as Secretary.
In his introductory talk, Mr. Elfenbein said that
the experiences he had suffered were representative
of the experiences of all flood sufferers. He described
the floods which have occurred during the past few
years and said they were becoming increasingly frequent,
since three have occurred during fourteen days July
27, August 9 and August 11. His neighbors had called
upon him, he said, to direct some action in the matter.
Many of them were bringing individual suit and others
spoke of filing joint sue for damages against the
municipalities. Others, he said, were talking about
organizing to bring about a 50 or 75 percent reduction
in taxes. “If we are just poor white trash,”
he quoted neighbors is saying, “living in shacks
on a river bottom, let us pay our taxes accordingly.”
legal claims against municipalities must be filed
before August 27, Mr. Elfenbein said, and he expects
to file a suit against the Town of Mamaroneck and
Villages of Larchmont and Mamaroneck and the City
of New Rochelle. In reference to the proposed suit
he pointed out several facts. When the water was pumped
out of his neighbors’ basements, he said it
flowed directly into his furnace room.
is not an Act of God, but of Mr. Flood of the Town
of Mamaroneck,” he said referring to the Town
Engineer. There were many items of expense which he
proposed to offer including dry clearing bills, cabinet
work for the restoration of furniture, and exterminator
fees for treatment of rats and vermin. His living
room had to be cleared of garbage and other refuse,
his oil burner and furnace room needed extensive repairs,
groceries were destroyed, an outboard motor ruined
and damage done to his vegetable garden. They were
also bills from druggists, doctors, electricians and
may ask why I am suing the Village of Larchmont and
the City of New Rochelle,” Mr. Elfenbein continued.
“I’d like to point out one fact. In March,
1936, the City of New Rochelle filed a claim against
the Village of Larchmont for damage from floods and
in November, 1937, the Village settled the claim for
$1,600. The Village naturally wished to prevent future
trouble with the residents of New Rochelle and I guess
- I’m only guessing - that they decided the
best way to do it was to build a dike to prevent Larchmont
Reservoir from flooding the homes in the Pinebrook
area. Now only a trickle of water goes in that direction,
but a spillway carries thousands of gallons per minute
to Larchmont. That is not an Act of God.”
exhibited photographs taken of the reservoir which
were published in the Daily Times on April 23, 1940.
At that time Mamaroneck Village Manager William H.
Johnson declared that the two and three-quarter square
miles of water spilling into a lower pond and thence
into the Sheldrake River caused the floods.
fact Mr. Elfenbein pointed out in connection with
his proposed suit against the four municipalities
was that “in January, 1933, Westchester County
made a deal with the Town of Mamaroneck whereby the
sanitary sewage system was to use the sewers of Mamaroneck
as a terminus to carry Westchester County sewage to
the Sound.” Permission was granted for $400,000.00,
he said. “I’m not saying that the facilities
were not equipped to carry it,” he continued.
“That fact can be determined in a court of law.
All we know is that we are being flooded with increasing
meeting was not called to hear engineers discuss problems
of flood control or to file petitions of protest or
to form committees to sit in on Town Boards, he said.
“We’ve done that before and what did it
get us? We are here to organize everyone who values
his home, his health and his life. People on the hill
are not immune,” he continued,” as long
as there and germs carrying spinal meningitis and
infantile paralysis. The time is over for listening
to explanations from supervisors, engineers and other
officials except in a court of law. Impartial judges
shall consider the problem and decide what is to be
done about it. A court of law will decide whether
these conditions are due to an Act of God or to the
stupidity of man.”
the brief period of open discussion, Martin E. King
of 527 Monroe Avenue, Mamaroneck, was introduced by
the chairman. Mr. King, an attorney acting for Albert
Miller recently won a suit against the Village of
Mamaroneck for flood damages. “It is a remarkable
and heartening thing”, he said, “to see
such an intelligent group settled here to discuss
the subject. I’ve never heard a better speech
that was delivered by your chairman. If you form a
permanent organization and stick to it, you’ll
E. McDonald, of 1317 Stony brook Avenue, Mamaroneck,
said that his driveway had been destroyed by water
gushing from a sewer on Stonybrook Avenue and that
although the Village had repair the damage after one
flood, they had not built a wall to protect that in
the adjoining property from the Guion Creek.
Mr. Griffen moved that a vote be taken, he said that
he would gladly corroborate Mr. Elfenbein’s
story of the dam built by the Village of Larchmont
to hold back water of the reservoir from the Pinebrook
area of New Rochelle.
closing, Mr. Elfenbein said that in addition to the
organization which had just been formed, residents
were free to take any individual action they pleased.
“Only remember,” he said, “that
claims must be filed before August 27.” Another
meeting will be called soon, he said, and committees
will form to present a slate of officers and directors,
to draft a constitution, and to draw up bylaws and
those who attended the meeting from out of town was
William T. Deitz of 409 Highbrook Avenue, Pelham Manor.
Mr. Deitz said that a similar procedure was being
started in Pelham Manor. He would be glad to hear
from anyone, he said, who wished to call on the county
for action, since he believed that much of the local
flood trouble originates in Scarsdale and White Plains.