Residents in Far Rockaway, Queens, have endured their share of hardships caused by Hurricane Sandy, with many still recovering from flooded basements and the loss of electricity.

But as the flooding receded, some said, they began noticing a problem they had not anticipated: sinkholes were appearing in areas that had seemed solid and stable before the storm.

“I’m worried that my house is going to sink,” Eleanor Alexandre said recently, surveying one of the holes, which was several feet behind her home on Beach 67th Street. “That hole looks like it has gotten bigger.”

For more than a week, the origin of the sinkholes was a mystery. But on Thursday, New York City officials said it had been solved: they were caused by damage to water and sewer lines.

Some of the sinkholes, like the one behind Ms. Alexandre’s house, appeared in grassy backyards, while others are in paved areas. At least three were cavernous, extending several feet into the ground. One formed at the corner of a house on Beach 69th Street and appeared to have eroded the earth beneath a section of the foundation.

The holes range up to nearly 3 feet in diameter, and some are 10 feet deep, said Steve Major, a former construction manager from Arizona who was in Brooklyn helping deliver aid after the storm and was among the first to notice the holes.

Mr. Major said he identified a dozen sinkholes in mid-November between Beach 67th and Beach 68th Streets in an area bordered by Bayfield Avenue to the north and Almeda Avenue to the south.

A spokesman for the city’s Environmental Protection Department said workers had determined that the sinkholes had been caused by damage to private water and sewer lines that run beneath backyards. The agency has begun informing homeowners of the problem so they could arrange for repairs.

Source: NY Times


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