made clear as Council members tried to digest a memorandum
listing four alternatives for responding to flooding and the
structural damage it caused in Glendale II following the rains
which hit New Castle County in the wake of Hurricane Ivan in
September. Estimated costs of the proposals range from $1.5
million to $3.9 million, not including what it would cost to
relocate the people who have been affected.
would appear that the small community near Bear is only the
proverbial tip of a very large iceberg. "There are probably 15
or 20 [similar] situations that may involve one or more houses,"
Jeffrey Bross, a principal in Duffield Associates, told
Council's finance committee.
beginning what is going to be a difficult and long process ...
that's going to cost millions of dollars, if not tens of
millions of dollars, that was not expected," said Council
president Christopher Coons. "The threat to [the county's]
fiscal health is going to be significant."
county engineer Richard Baccino told a meeting of Council's
finance committee on Oct. 12 that Duffield, a geological
sciences consulting firm, was hired to evaluate the Glendale II
situation, which was deemed to be an emergency after stormwater
undermined the basements of two seven-unit townhouse structures.
He did not offer an explanation of why that took priority over
what had happened in other communities.
we going to [deal with] the whole thing?" Councilman William
Tansey asked rhetorically. "There are plenty of people in my
[Council] district who were hurt. I need aid too."
over the county. We have to have a systemized approach," said
Councilwoman Karen Venezky.
seemed to be a tacit acknowledgement during the committee
discussion that public perception would hold that a precedent
was set when the Gordon administration proposed and Council
agreed to the county putting up $15 million as part of a joint
county-state buy out of most residents of Glenville whose houses
were severely damaged by flooding during a September, 2003,
storm. However, participants on both sides of the podium during
the committee meeting drew what they said was a distinction
between the two situations.
Glenville's flooding was caused by the unleashing of water in
the Red Clay Creek while Glendale II apparently was the victim
of failure of a drainage system installed during a Pulaski
Highway improvements project to handle runoff, combined with
original construction which allegedly did not comply with the
county building code and alleged unapproved enlargement of a
nearby parking lot.
no geographic proximity or other connection between Glenville
and Glendale II.
blame [flooding] on [development decisions] in Pennsylvania, but
some of the blame has to go to New Castle County," said
Councilwoman Patty Powell. In Glendale II case, "we had a big
rain event and the drainage system didn't work," said Charles
Baker, general manager of the Department of Land Use.
said the apparent shortcomings which made Glendale II vulnerable
"couldn't occur today." He said that Land Use's enforcement of
codes and floodplain protections in the Unified Development Code
are totally different from what they were 20 to 25 years ago.
principal concern among the Council members, however, lie not so
much in fixing blame as in paying for fixing the results.
Glenville buyout came at a time when Delaware Department of
Transportation was looking to acquire property to replace
wetlands to be taken to allow widening of Interstate 95 through
Churchmans Marsh. That made state money more readily available
to match the county's contribution than it would have been
otherwise. No such support is in prospect regarding financing a
solution in Glendale II or elsewhere and the finance committee
was told there is little or no enthusiasm among state
legislators for making it available.
reason we were successful in Glenville was that we had state
cooperation. Now it seems that someone has decided they (the
state) are not going to be involved," Councilman Robert Woods
said. He also questioned why federal money has not been
forthcoming to assist, as had been anticipated, in the Glenville
buyout or why it federal disaster aid is unavailable now. "I see
money going to Florida because that is the will of the President
and Congress. Why isn't some of it coming here?" Woods said.
Councilman Robert Weiner said that fundamental policy has to be
determined. "We made some decisions about Glenville because of
its uniqueness. ... Now we have to decide if we (county
government) can become an insurer in the future for any disaster
that may occur."
that, he added, is a determination of what Council thinks is
appropriate when it comes to applying the present budget
reserves. "If we didn't have a surplus we wouldn't be having
this conversation," he said.
same time, Powell said, county government is caught in a
dilemma. "We have people in dire straits. They have no place to
live and they have no money [to repair damages]," she said.