EAST HAVEN — A strong winter storm on Jan. 17 brought winds, rain and snow to town but it also brought flooding to streets in town.

On that day, Coe Avenue turned into a mini river, with water seen flowing over the pavement as vehicles drove through it. One resident estimated the water to be between 8 and 10 inches deep — so deep that a car got stuck and stalled. Over on Fairview Road, a video shared with the New Haven Register shows water flowing faster than it did on Coe Avenue.

This is just an example of recent coastal flooding due to its proximity to Long Island Sound. But flooding along the Farm River and Tuttle Brook have also been a longtime issue.

With increased development, residents are concerned flooding will increase unless town officials create an effective plan.

Resident Lorena Venegas, who shared photos and videos of the recent flooding on social media and with the Register, has been vocal about her concerns, even submitting testimony to the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Committee and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“I believe it is water displacement from inundated wetlands due to construction on Short Beach (storage units sit higher with more pavement),” Venegas wrote Thursday. “Zoning Boards are still not learning that building on top of, besides, next to wetlands exacerbates local flooding with poor drainage solutions.”

Venegas is calling for more stormwater management, stating that plenty of grants are available to mitigate the issues. One of her concerns is that the flooding occurs on the primary evacuation route from town.

Mayor Joseph Carfora acknowledged the flooding issues, stating that some locations along Farm River cannot be easily cleaned out and require special equipment, tying the hands of Public Works.

It might be time to clean the river again, he said, and that may be possible with help from the federal infrastructure bill.

“I have also been talking with (U.S. Rep.) Rosa DeLauro (D-3)about federal funding to manage and clean up rivers,” Carfora said.

The mayor also had a meeting scheduled with U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy last week to discuss the issues, but it got postponed.

Carfora’s concern for the future is a microburst, a localized column of sinking air within a thunderstorm, that could cause major damage to the town or river. If this happens, it could be difficult to clean sections of the Farm River as specialized equipment needs to be used to access certain sections, he said.

As for coastal flooding prevention, Carfora said the town in the past has done things like give out sandbags at the beach. The town’s planning and zoning rules have also changed over the years to help mitigate the damage of coastal flooding.

“If you build on the shoreline, you’ve got to be up like 14 to 16 feet,” said Ray Baldwin, the town’s economic development director.

Still, older homes may have been grandfathered in with previous zoning laws. Some of the shoreline residents decided to lift their homes after Hurricane Sandy and other major tropical storms, but they are not required to do so by law.

East Haven was also named a Connecticut 2000 Project Impact community, a project by FEMA that gave the town funding to elevate or demolish homes, clean up debris along the river banks and buy a shallow rescue boat intended for river use.

Carfora said Wednesday that his administration last year authorized the purchase of a Vactor truck to clean catch basins and storm sewers. The town, by state statute, is required to clean the drains and without the truck, the town was not in compliance with Connecticut’s regulation.

Since the vehicle’s purchase, East Haven has been taking care of the drains and complying with state statute, he said.

As for now, Carfora is hoping to work with legislators to get funds to help with maintenance and flooding, but there is no set announcement yet.

“We literally have to keep our fingers crossed that there’s no major flooding,” Carfora said.

christine.derosa@hearstmediact.com

Source Google News – Read the original article

As flooding in East Haven continues, town officials plan for future remediations – New Haven Register

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