By Charles Layton
The people who live along Broadway, and who endured the worst of a flash flood on Wednesday, were full of questions on Thursday.
Some had begun to insist that the Township and/or its contractor had made mistakes in the design and/or implementation of their ambitious storm drainage project, which has been going on for months all down the length of Broadway, and which had been intended to relieve the area’s persistent flooding problem.
Wednesday’s flood was, by many neighbors’ accounts, even worse than those before the new underground drain system was put in place this summer. Cars were flooded above the bottoms of their doors, and the water rose higher up the foundations of houses than has been seen before. (Admittedly, Wednesday’s downpour was unusually severe.)
Some of the neighbors were saying that the contractor had partially blocked off an underground drain pipe on the north side of Broadway, near its intersection with Central Avenue, and that this had caused the rain water to back up and overflow.
Darrell Dufresne, who lives near that drain, said he had noticed the problem during construction. He said that after the new drain pipe had been installed there, its top portion had been cut off and a sewerage pipe from one of the houses had been allowed to cut through it. Then the top part of that drain pipe had been sealed with concrete. He estimated that as much as 60 percent of that pipe’s water carrying capacity had been blocked due to this procedure.
Dufresne, who is an electrical engineer and a consultant with more than 50 years of experience, said he had tried repeatedly to warn Township officials about that problem, but that no one listened. He is convinced that this damming of the street’s main underground storm pipe contributed to the severity of Wednesday’s flooding.
Another neighbor, Connie Ogden, said another problem seemed to involve the new drains at the corner of Beach and Broadway. Those drains seem susceptible to being clogged by debris carried by the water as it goes streaming down the street along the curbs. She was one of those who went out during the storm to pull away the debris that was blocking those drains.
This problem of debris on the drains has occurred twice this summer during sudden storms, and neighbors are wondering whether they will now be required on a regular basis to go out during thunderstorms and scrape away debris with their bare hands to prevent flooding. If so, they say, that would seem to indicate a design problem with those drains. Ogden said the previous system, which included cuts in the curbs leading into the underground drains, had seemed to work better than the supposedly improved new system.
These drains are at the corner where the Sea Spray Inn is located. The Sea Spray Inn has had a basement apartment flooded five times during this summer alone. One of its owners, Mary Ellen Tellefsen, said that Wednesday’s flooding was “worse than what happened with Hurricane Irene.”
On Thursday, Blogfinger tried without success to reach the Township’s engineering department to ask about the issues raised by Broadway residents. However, in an email on Thursday evening, Deputy Mayor Eric Houghtaling promised that the Township would soon respond to all of our questions, but that he wanted to make sure they were answered correctly. “Like [with] any new system, there are some things that have to be worked out and maybe corrected,” he told us. “We will persevere.”