Updated: Sep 20, 2021
I would like to make a few remarks about the recent flood events that brought so much destruction to property and businesses in Darien.
First, I would like to express our sincere condolences to those residents and businesses that lost so much to the floods. I would also like to thank our emergency response teams who were out during and after the storm, responding to the numerous calls for help. I am thankful for your dedication and expertise.
The storms that hit us back-to-back this summer with record rainfalls may be our new normal, but lesser storms have also created terrible flooding for some of our residents. The history of flooding in Darien goes back many decades. The town has studied flooding of the Stony Brook after many of the serious floods. I have reviewed various reports performed over the years, all part of the public record. The problem is not new, and continued development in town has exacerbated the problem. The solutions are not technically complex; they involve water detention and absorption and reducing the restrictions that prevent water from getting to the Long Island Sound. They are socially and politically complicated, and likely are the same now as they were then.
80% of Stony Brook goes over private property, where private dams, bridges, and other restrictions (natural and man-made) restrict water flows, and the reach of town government is limited. Stony Brook goes under the railroad tracks, I-95, and the Post Road. Any flood control project necessarily involves these political constituencies. A limited town project to improve the flow of water in one place, which does not involve the entire watershed, risks moving the flooding to other areas. For example, expanding the Renshaw Road bridge to let more water through during flooding events does no good unless the State rebuilds the culvert under the Post Road to release water downstream. Then, what would that do to properties farther to the south of Post Road? Will all private property owners where Stony Brook runs through their property commit to make flood improvements on their lands? Then, there are cost and environmental issues to address.
What we need most to fully address the flooding issue is a way of addressing flood control in a coordinated manner with private property owners, the State, and our own resources to fund town improvements.
I look forward to a presentation on flooding issues and recommendations from Ed Gentile, Jeremy Ginsberg, Craig Flaherty and Darren Oustafin at the Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday 9/20/21 at 7:00pm. Please refer to the Darienct.gov website for information on how to participate in the Public Hearing being held immediately prior, from 6:00 to 7:00pm.
-Monica McNally, Candidate for Darien’s First Selectman