Water, water everywhere

Road wash-outs, like this large one on Captain Road in Longmeadow, made many roads unpassable. The Captain Road wash-out left a 40-foot-wide, 30-foot-deep hole adjacent to residential property. Reminder photo by Natasha Clark
Four towns deal with flooding

By Debbie Gardner,

Natasha Clark

and Sarah M. Corigliano

As the result of history-making heavy rains and flooding, all of the towns served by The Reminder sustained damage to public and personal property Oct. 14 - 16. At press time, some towns were still assessing damage and not all costs had been determined. Here is a round-up on the damage and clean-up as town officials reported last week, along with reports of any road closures.

In addition, many local residents shared their photos of Saturday's flooding. We have made an attempt to print as many of these photos as possible with our readers. They provide unique perspectives on the situation many local residents and public employees faced when they awoke Saturday morning.

The Scantic River roars over its banks

Several roads in the town of Hampden suffered significant damage during the heavy rains and flooding of the weekend of Oct. 14-16.

According to Highway Department Superintendent Dana Pixley, most damage occurred on roadways adjacent to the Scantic River.

"I'm going to say in Hampden our major damage to roads was first on Main Street, then Rock-A-Dundee Road, and then Ames Road and Glendale Road," Pixley told Reminder Publications during a telephone interview on Oct. 17.

He said there was also serious, but less significant damage to South Monson Road, Chapin Road, Wilbraham Road and Walnut Road.

Pixley said the town's Highway Department had all damaged roads passable on one lane for emergency vehicles by sunset Sat., Oct. 15.

The crews returned at daylight on Oct. 16 to shore up soft shoulder areas and undermined areas of pavement in anticipation of school bus traffic on Oct. 17.

Pixley said all roads were passable to school bus traffic by Monday morning.

In a follow-up call on Oct. 20, Pixley told Reminder Publications that he had a rough estimate of $77,000 to repair the damage to the town's roads.

"The Selectmen have authorized me to deficit spend my highway maintenance account to fund those repairs," Pixley said.

He expects to receive some reimbursement for the spending from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) but, because Governor Mitt Romney has not yet filed his disaster declaration, the exact rate of reimbursement for this storm has not yet been set.

Pixley said he has already contracted with Palmer Paving to begin repairs to Hampden roads, and that the project is slated to begin Oct. 25-26.

"But that may be slightly changed because of rain," he said.

Pixley also said that, late on the afternoon of Oct. 18, he met with representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and MEMA, and toured damaged private property areas in town until dark.

He said approximately 10 homes in town sustained damage due to flooding.

"There are a lot [of homes in town] that had flooded basements, but it could be the high water table, not actual floodwaters," he said.

Regarding the warnings issued to homeowners about the rising waters along the Scantic River, where townspeople sustained the most property damage and financial loss, Pixley said that has always been done through the Police Department.

"As the water rises people call 911 and alert the Police Department and [the Police] contact whatever other town agencies are needed," he said. "The way we handle [flood emergencies] is pretty well managed, given the size of the town."

Wilbraham floods worse than storm of 2001

On Oct. 17, Ed Miga, director of the Department of Public Works for the town of Wilbraham, estimated the cost of repairs to the 14 damaged streets in town following the heavy rains and flooding of Oct 14-16 to be "well over $100,000."

Because Governor Mitt Romney declared a State of Emergency for Western Mass. during the flooding, Miga said he expects partial funding for the repairs to come from the MEMA.

He said the rest of the cost will be handled through deficit spending in the Highway budget.

"When we have a snow emergency we deficit spend. This will be deficit spending to fix these roads," Miga said.

Based on his experience with similar flood damage following the Father's Day storm of 2001, Miga estimated that completing all repairs to all streets would take about a year.

"We've got a huge list of streets that are damaged," Miga told Reminder Publications via telephone.

The most severely damaged road is Silver Street, which at the time remained closed.

"Soule Road was closed for a while, but we've reopened it," he reported on Oct. 17. "There was a lot of damage at Soule and Lorring."

Miga said the damage to the Soule Road area was unusual.

He reported that other streets sustaining heavy damage included Highmoor, Macintosh and Woodland Dell.

"We've been assessing damage up on Glendale Road, Monson Road ... Burleigh Circle Drive ... it's all over town," Miga said.

He also said that this storm was the second time residents at the corner of Woodland Dell Road and Main Street were flooded out.

"I'm going to inform the Board of Selectmen [and] give them a recommendation that they should make an evaluation of the drainage area on Main Street," he said.

Miga added road inspections and repairs will be ongoing for some time, as he works to prioritize limited resources.

"As time goes on you start to uncover more damage," Miga said. "Water seeps under the road and you can't see it now, but it will collapse later."

During a followup interview on Oct. 20, Miga reported that just that kind of post-storm collapse had occured on Circle Drive.

He also reported that the list of streets had now grown to 22.

However, he said the most severly damaged road in town, Silver Street, reopened at the end of the workday on Oct. 19.

Miga reported he is also moving to open up the flow of the brook on Rice Drive. Initial plans were to delay this work, but with the possibility of more rains from Hurricane Wilma hitting the area this week, he is moving to widen the stream immediately.

"The bed of the river is above the road, and some of the brook is going down the road. It used to be below the road," Miga said, indicating the severity of the flooding in that area.

Miga said that crews will also return to areas that were shored up temporarily following the flooding to affect more permanent repairs.

"If the public sees anything unusual [on a roadway] please let us know so we can check it out," Miga added.

At press time, he said he was planning to meet with FEMA on Oct. 21 to assess all the damage and try to put a price tag on it.

Longmeadow still cleaning up

Last week, Longmeadow Town Manager Robin Crosbie told The Reminder that, on Oct. 15, Select Board Chair John J. Papale declared a State of Emergency.

"On Longmeadow Street, just beside Bay Path College and Wheelmeadow, we had to detour northbound traffic," explained Crosbie, adding that, due to extensive rain, the storm drain overflowed and a section of the southbound lane collapsed.

Crosbie noted that there were several washouts throughout the town, most notably a section of Captain Road that collapsed, leaving a ravine about 30 feet deep and 40 feet wide.

In a press release dated Oct. 15, Crosbie alerted the public that utility lines were down as a result of the collapse and "gas and water service has been shut off. Power is being restored to residents in that area as downed trees are being removed."

While the total cost of damages are not yet known, Crosbie said the town will still try to make immediate repairs.

"We're just trying to fix the damages. There were numerous smaller washouts throughout the town and brook areas," she added.

One thing that is known is that repair costs will be significant. Papale touched on the flood damage issue at the Oct. 17 Select Board meeting and added that declaring a State of Emergency allows the town to seek reimbursement for response and repair costs.

East Longmeadow

fared better than most

According to Sean Kelly, senior project manager for East Longmeadow's Department of Public Works, several streets experienced flooding and damage from the torrential rains last weekend.

"It was a busy weekend for our guys," Kelly said.

He told The Reminder that Lee Street, Prospect Street, Brook Street, the intersection of Allen and Markham and the intersection of Meadowbrook and Chestnut, Elm Street and the high school fields, as well as the athletic fields in the center of town, all experienced flooding Saturday. Some streets experienced damage, the worst of which was Prospect, Kelly said. He added that the street was closed for several hours.

However, at press time, all roads were reopened and passable, unlike several of East Longmeadow's neighbors.

However, Kelly said, personal property took quite a hit.

"There was a lot of private property damage [at homes] along the Pecousic Brook," he said.

Kelly said a private bridge also was washed away in the area of Meadowbrook and Park Streets.

The bridge connected a resident's property on either side of a branch of the Mill River. When it washed away it became jammed in the brook's culvert at the intersection, Kelly said.

As a result of the weekend damage, the East Longmeadow Board of Selectmen declared a State of Emergency, and Kelly said he anticipates that the town will file a claim with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

He said some costs the town can claim are wages, equipment, and materials used to respond to the flooding and subsequent damage. Kelly said he won't know the exact costs of the storm and flood response for several weeks, but last Wednesday he estimated $50,000 to $70,000.

He added that the Fire Department may also be able to claim costs it incurred as a result of responding to the floods.

When asked about the future safety of the areas which were inundated with water last weekend, Kelly said intense rain could cause flooding and damage again.

"We had over two months' worth of rain in a little over a week," he said. "[During the rain] we were pumping over three million gallons of [waste or storm] water a day to Bondi's Island we usually pump one million [a day]."

However, at press time he said DPW crews were working diligently to make sure all culverts are clear so normal rainfall will not cause further flooding or damage.