Sound View Summit: Six weeks after Ida, what awaits us?

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A look at how our communities are dealing with unprecedented damage

By Linnet Tse

Six weeks after Hurricane Ida hit communities on the Sound Shore, local officials gathered on Zoom to give the local Larchmont-Mamaroneck summit audience an update on the damage from Hurricane Ida and this who awaits them.

Mamaroneck City Supervisor Nancy Seligson, who is also the Co-Chair of Sustainable Westchester, a non-profit consortium of Westchester County local governments that facilitates effective collaboration on sustainability initiatives, paved the way for us. recalling why our communities were so prone to severe flooding caused by Ida. .
She cited three reasons: 1) significant development with minimal natural areas to absorb water; 2) an over 80-year-old stormwater system built to handle much smaller storms; and 3) we are located at the bottom of the drainage basins of the Sheldrake and Mamaroneck rivers, resulting in all the excess rain and upstream flooding that drains into our communities.

Extensive damage concentrated in the village of Mamaroneck
With 8 ½ inches of rain in less than 12 hours, our communities have been hit hard by unprecedented levels of flooding and destruction, leading President Biden to declare the area a disaster area eligible for federal funding in the event of a disaster. disaster.
While residential and commercial buildings in all three communities suffered from flooding, the most damage was suffered by the village of Mamaroneck (VoM), particularly in the area of ​​Columbus Park at the confluence of the Sheldrake and Mamaroneck rivers. VoM Mayor Tom Murphy described the heartbreaking evening of September 1 when streets and homes were flooded with 10 to 12 feet of water. Many families and businesses have lost everything and a large number of residents are still displaced. Murphy estimates the damage to VoM’s municipal properties at over $ 12 million. The Mamaroneck Avenue fire station was devastated, four police cars were lost, and the Tompkins Avenue bridge was badly damaged.
According to Seligson, the town suffered extensive damage to the road shoulders, damage to curbs and pavement, exposed sewer lines, displaced cache pond casts and damage to culverts and bridges. The City assesses the damage at over a million dollars.
The Village of Larchmont (VoL) suffered minimal damage compared to its neighbors. VoL administrator Justin Datino estimates damage to municipal properties in the range of $ 350,000 to $ 500,000, most of which was suffered by the Larchmont Public Library, which suffered flooding at its lower level, and l ‘city Hall.
The three municipalities will apply for reimbursement from FEMA.

Herculean efforts of cleansing and recovery

Seligson, Murphy and Datino thanked DPW, sanitation and roads workers in the three communities who worked for more than two weeks straight to clean up most of the debris left in Ida’s wake. They also expressed their appreciation for the county’s support, in particular its help in finding shelter for the many displaced families.
Calling it “the most generous municipal act I have seen in my time in government,” Murphy thanked Cortlandt Town Supervisor Linda Puglisi for sending in the entire team and equipment. from Cortlandt’s DPW to help VoM for a week.
Murphy’s swift action, in conjunction with Senator Schumer’s office, enabled FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and the Red Cross to set up their headquarters in the courthouse in the village of Mamaroneck, thus providing local residents with easier access to these essential resources.
Panelists also cited the important role that the Community Resource Center (CRC) and other local NFP organizations and volunteers have played in the clean-up and recovery phases after Ida. The silver lining, Seligson said, was seeing the community come together to help each other.
While much of the cleanup is complete, rebuilding will be a much slower process.

Look forward. . . . What can be done?
While it’s unlikely that anything could have prevented flooding with a storm as fierce as Ida, steps could be taken to reduce the damage. At the neighborhood level, Seligson urged residents to keep cache ponds in front of their homes free of debris and fallen leaves.
Seligson suggested the possibility of dredging the rivers to increase the water carrying capacity and improve some of the outdated drainage systems. She pointed out that some funding for water infrastructure is included in President Biden’s infrastructure proposal.
Murphy stressed the importance of getting the US Army Corps of Engineers flood mitigation plan back on track for the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake River Basin. The study was completed in December 2017, and the $ 82 million project was approved by Congress in the fall of 2018. However, funding was denied under the Trump administration, forcing its suspension. Murphy has worked closely with Senator Schumer’s office since then to revive it.

The Local Summit thanks LMC Media for hosting this webinar. To learn more about the Local Summit, visit: localsummitlm.org. To learn more about LMC Media, visit: lmcmedia.org. Click here to watch the program on LMC Media Online. The next Local Summit program, “Navigating the COVID 19 Vaccine and Its Effects on Our Community” will take place on Tuesday, November 9 at 8:00 am.


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