Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene--A Reprise of Hurricane Bill's Flooding Two Years Prior

Most of these photos are from a post two years ago after Hurricane Bill paid a visit to Princeton. Hurricane Irene, because it passed through 'round midnight last night, was less photogenic, but the impact of the torrential rains was the same. The underground pipes designed to carry away stormwater get overwhelmed, the streets become rivers, and the flow of the water becomes dictated by the lay of the land (and streets).

In my part of town, these massive downpours cause water to flow from the high school and Westminster Conservatory onto Franklin Street. It then takes a right down Ewing before making an unfortunate left turn into the apartment parking lot.

The water then flows pell mell down to the bottom of the parking lot, (photo taken today, after flooding was over)

quickly overwhelms the stormdrain, then heads under the fence into people's backyards.

This is not good. The water came within one inch of the neighbor's threshold.

After flowing diagonally across the block through backyards and around foundations, it emerges across the street from me, spilling over the curb at Ewing and Harrison Street on its way down to the intersection with Hamilton, where it serves as a traffic calming device.

Back at the point where things go wrong on Ewing Street, this unfortunate foray of stormwater runoff into people's backyards could be avoided if the entryway to the apartment parking lot off Ewing Street was raised slightly so that the surface water would continue down Ewing rather than flow into the parking lot.

I proposed this solution to the borough engineer two years ago, to no avail. Reportedly, the borough has no control of the matter, and the apartment complex is within its rights to (unintentionally) "harvest" stormwater from a public street and divert it into the yards of neighbors.

All this seems strange. Since the needed modification is within the boundaries of the borough's street right of way (the street right of way actually includes the sidewalks), the borough would seem within its rights to intervene. In the meantime, history continues to repeat itself.

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