The Mayors Council Rahway River Watershed Flood Control will be meeting in Springfield Town Hall September 18 at a meeting hosted by Mayor Erica Dubois to discuss the status of the Federal-State Rahway River Flood Mitigation Plan.
Mayors Council consists of representatives of the affected communities including Springfield Mayor Erica Dubois; Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca; Cranford Mayor Pat Giblin; Garwood Mayor Sara Todisco; Millburn Mayor Diane Eglow; Union Mayor Michelle Delisfort; Rahway Mayor Ray Giacobbe; and Kenilworth Mayor Anthony Deluca.
After six years of working on various alternatives, last year the federal project received a positive recommendation to proceed to final approval but the federal US Army Corps of Engineers Chief Engineer had reservations about a federal policy that was established after Hurricane Maria. The Chief Engineer committed to our federal representatives that a solution would be found. The multi-phase project was sent back to the drawing boards and a new alternative is now under consideration by the stakeholders in the region.
The plan would establish additional storage of stormwater upstream to protect Millburn, Union and Springfield and lower river elevation downstream during the most severe storms like Irene. Channel modification to enlarge the capacity of the river for 1.5 miles through Cranford while keeping its natural appearance. Lenape Park spillway would be modified and house acquisition projects would be funded in Rahway. Communities from Millburn to Rahway would benefit from the flood mitigation.
Irene in 2011 cost the communities over $100 million of damages. Dorian was headed our way until it veered like many tropical storms do. Most who live in areas affected watched closely as the weather forecast indicated direction. But it could have been a different story.
Communities like Cranford have done much on its own to better prepare including flood proofing the municipal building and schools and joining the Community Rating System which lowered homeowner flood insurance. Recently however federal law dramatically increased insurance rates causing resident’s financial harm.
Dorian initially had the signs of a path that communities along river could have been impacted. Mayors working cooperatively to be more resilient need progress on the federal state plan to be implemented so the next major storm can be mitigated to best of ability.
Currently, Essex County and Union County are evaluating the new plan before it is presented to the NJ DEP and US Army Corps of Engineers for approval and then to Congress for funding.
Citizens are urged to contact their county and state representatives to express urgent action is needed.