New York Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) was in Mamaroneck Thursday, telling many of us what we already know: that Mamaroneck is particularly susceptible to flooding and, as extreme weather events have become more frequent, it is important to move forward on a plan to mitigate the risk of future flooding and make the community more resilient.
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An Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) study, he says, outlines a path forward in making Mamaroneck more resistant and resilient to future flooding.
The plan recommended is projected to cost $59.2 million and will consist of the following elements: 4,360 feet of flood walls will be added, the Mamaroneck River will be widened by up to 45 feet and deepened by up to 4.2 feet, the Sheldrake River will be widened by up to 35 feet and deepened by up to 3.4 feet, and six bridges will be either removed or replaced – Ward Ave. bridge, Station Plaza bridge, Waverly Ave. bridge, Center Ave. bridge and two other footbridges.
Schumer noted that at a cost of $59.2 million, with a 65% federal cost share, this project will potentially pay for itself with one major flood like the one that hit Mamaroneck in 2007.
The flood mitigation study analyzed both structural and non-structural measures to improve flood risk management. Structural solutions include building diversion tunnels, modifying current channels, and strengthening floodwalls. Non-structural solutions include elevating building structures, constructing peripheral walls, and expanding flood proofing. Schumer explained that the LPP drew from these strategies to make the watershed more resilient to flooding.
The USACE will now proceed to various internal and external reviews, leading up to a public review that will include an environmental impact study and a full project report. Schumer is urging the USACE to expedite this review phrase and get a plan out for public comment as quickly as possible, so that the project can get closer to the construction phase sooner. Schumer vowed to support and seek funding for the LPP as soon as it cleared the review process.
“Mamaroneck has been plagued by damaging floods for too long; now is the time to invest in flood mitigation measures to protect residents and businesses from the next Irene, Lee, or Sandy,” said Schumer.
Westchester and Putnam Dem. Congressman Eliot Engel said, “As we have seen with Hurricanes Sandy and Irene, the need to protect our shore communities couldn’t be any more urgent. I have brought the Army Corps of Engineers to Mamaroneck to tour the flooded areas, and I have met with them multiple times to press for a timely review of the Mamaroneck flood control project. Communities along the shore deserve to know they will be protected the next time a major storm threatens our region.”
The confluence of the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake Rivers around Columbus Park, where Schumer stood, has been a flooding “hot spot” for over a decade. The area was hit by flooding in 2004 and massive floods from two storms in April 2007, in which about 134 residential units and two commercial properties flooded when storm water overflowed the dam at Sheldrake Lake. In total, this storm caused approximately $50 million in damage.
Severe flooding again occurred during Hurricanes Irene and Lee in 2011. The flooding extended several blocks on both sides of Mamaroneck Avenue. The repeated disasters, including shoreline flooding from Superstorm Sandy in 2012, have caused extensive damage and severely impacted the local economy. More than 200 homes are in the flood plain and have been affected by repeated flooding.
Schumer and then-Senator Hillary Clinton secured the necessary funding for the ACE study following the 2007 storms.
A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to the USACE appears below:
Dear Assistant Secretary Darcy,
I am writing today in response to the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake Rivers Flood Risk Management General Re-Evaluation Study (GRR) recently released by the US Army Corps of Engineers. As you know, the study took an in-depth look at how to address the persistent flooding in communities like the Village of Mamaroneck and throughout the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake watershed. The study identified a number of alternatives for how to address flooding events, including a Locally Preferred Plan (LPP) that would provide a 92% reduction in flood risk for a 50-year flood event.
I urge you to work quickly in your review of the LPP and advance the draft report to the public comment phase as fast as possible. In addition, I urge you to expedite the release of the draft Environmental Impact Statement for public comment. In the plan presented to the Village these next two necessary steps are scheduled to take an additional 8 months or more, this is simply too long for this community to wait.
I urge you to do everything you can to expedite this project, and advance the LPP to the phase where Congress can act to fund this project. As you know, a final Chief’s Report must be approved in order for this project to move forward. Westchester residents have been plagued with severe flooding for too long, and this plan finally present a way to help alleviate some of those impacts.
Charles E. Schumer