Concerned that there may be some lacunae in the way the government is addressing the flooding issue in town, a local resident is taking up the cudgels for townspeople affected by it.
Since March 2, when heavy rainfall turned the Stony Brook River into a raging torrent, flooding homes and garages and threatening to wash away cars, Vanessa Wood of 27 Crimmins Road, a stay-at home mom and a flood-victim, has been on a fact-finding mission to gauge the extent and severity of the problem.
“I’m not a social activist. I’m not a politician. But since we got hit by the March 2 rains, I’ve been knocking on people’s door to hear their stories,” said Wood, who recently launched a Web site to focus attention on the issue.
“Have you wondered why no emergency services were in place?” “Has the Town of Darien been unresponsive to your queries?” “[Are you] surprised that the town and the state have made no commitment to maintain Darien’s waterways?” are some of the questions she asks on the Web site.
Her goal is to help form a “single united front” of families, who’ve hitherto been dealing with this situation individually and chalk out a plan to tackle the problem collectively.
“I’m not the expert. I don’t have the answers, but it’s time to find out what we can do as a group,” she said.
There’re currently 30 to 50 flood-hit families in Darien, she said. Wood realized, she simply couldn’t sit back and twiddle her thumbs when she saw a cascade of water rushing into her backyard, filling every nook and cranny of her garage and her first-floor kitchen.
“I think ours was one of the worst-hit houses in Darien. There was a six-feet- tower of water in my backyard. The garage went completely under water. There was two feet of water in my kitchen, in my dishwasher, in the clothes dryer. And mind you, I don’t have a basement,” she said.
Today, a “four feet patch of dry wall” is missing in the kitchen. Her work computer, which sank in the gushing waters, is still not functional due to the drenched circuits.
Anup Banerjee of 1691 Boston Post Road faced a similar crisis.
“There’s a creek that flows through our property. And it overflowed its banks [by so much] that the garage of our four-bedroom house was beneath two-and-a-half feet of water.”
“There was water inside our Lexus S.U.V. Our neighbor told us that our other car, a Toyota Yaris, which was parked in the driveway, looked like it going to be washed away,” said Banerjee.
Unlike the Woods, the Banerjees aren’t insured against floods. “When we bought the house, we didn’t take flood insurance. And now, it’s too late,” he regretted.
What’s making people anxious is that the water level seems to be rising with each passing year.
“This never happened when we bought our house in June 2003. I can tell you off the bat that the water-table underneath our house has gone up phenomenally over the past three-and-a-half years,” he said. He added that their pump has been working round the clock just to keep the water off their basement.
Wood concurred, saying, “each time, the water seems to be getting higher.
In April 2006, the problem suddenly escalated.” What’s worse, its composition seems to be changing. “This time, the water brought down so much mud and silt like I’ve never seen before. [Thrown in it] were snowboards, garbage cans, limbs of trees,” she said.
Ad-hoc visits to town hall with complaints and photographic evidence of the inundated basements and drowning vehicles has been of little help, she alleged.
“In September 2006, some people had conversations with town hall, but they (officials) said that they couldn’t help,” said Wood.
“When we called the Fire Department on March 2, not a single person came to our rescue. They told us, ‘we have nobody here. We can’t help you’,” said Banerjee.
Many feel that the situation is deteriorating on account of the flurry of development projects in and around town. “There’s blasting on 1-95 right above the creek,” Wood said.
It’s unclear at this point as to what factors are responsible for the escalation in the flooding activity. What’s clear, however, is that the townspeople are on a serious quest to find their own solution to their problem.