We are disappointed that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to stop the flood control planning process that began in 1999 and has yet to make any meaningful progress. We support every effort to appeal this decision in order to improve flood control in the Rahway River Basin. At the same time, Brian Andrews and Kathleen Miller Prunty propose new strategies at the local, regional, state, and federal levels to address this vital concern which will only get worse due to climate change.
As a river community, flooding is a major issue. Residents in the flood zones are most directly affected, including by costly insurance requirements, but flooding impacts our entire town. In 2011, Hurricane Irene reminded us of the devastating effects of severe storms. Brian and Kathleen discussed this issue with Congressman Malinowski last month, and stressed the need for more federal support to address the causes of flooding and develop mitigation strategies.
However, the Trump administration and Republicans in Washington are unlikely to send support our way, so we must do more locally. Brian and Kathleen intend to prioritize flooding and build on the progress the Democratic members of the township committee have made the past two years.
A major drainage project is underway along Riverside Drive. The town is also conducting a desilting project and replacing the flood gates on dams in Sperry Park and Droescher's Mill. The Droescher’s Mill floodgate has been broken for years; this overdue repair will give Cranford more control over our water levels.
Looking forward, Brian and Kathleen believe we need comprehensive solutions. The town should explore design options that capture excess water, such as rain gardens, “sponge spaces” that can safely absorb water, and the use of permeable surfaces that allow water to flow through. Additionally, we need to work with our neighboring communities on regional solutions, such as increasing the reservoir capacity in Lenape Park. Finally, as the Army Corp of Engineers prepares to step away, we should look to New Jersey state government to play a more active role bringing the downstream and upstream communities together to find mutually agreeable solutions.
Now is the time to plan for the future with new approaches that will finally make progress on this vital concern.