As residents and business owners in Mamaroneck Village continue to struggle to recoup monetary losses from the latest installment of flooding, their frustrations are compounded by a sense that municipal and county governments are not doing enough to speed the process along., a group of residents from a particularly hard hit area of the village—no longer content to keep quiet—raged at the Board of Trustees for what they perceived as a lot of talk about flood relief with little action to back it up.
This morning, county legislatures gathered at at 564 Mamaroneck Ave. to formally announce the need for immediate flood mitigation and storm water projects to be initiated in response to the current crisis.
“In 2007, the county pledged $50 million to [over 5 years] for flood mitigation projects,” said County Legislature Judy Myers (D-Larchmont), who was part of the original Flood Action Task Force set up by former county executive Andrew Spano to implement projects to help alleviate flooding issues.
With the change of administration in 2010, said Myers, there was an end to the funding for these projects, with County Executive Rob Astorino proposing a decrease of $30 million in flood funding in his five-year capital budget.
“We have to get this up and running again,” she said, continuing, “Flood mitigation has to be handled on a regional basis.”
Bilotta—a luxury cabinet company near the confluence of the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake Rivers—suffered a total of $3 million worth of damages in the floods of 2007, said owner Jim Bilotta. The company did not reopen until December of 2007, said Kristin Ohnmacht, the company’s director of marketing.
“We lost our whole showroom,” Ohnmacht said. “We lost a lot of stuff in our warehouse and had to reorder parts for jobs.”
Although, this time Bilotta was better prepared in advance to deal with the effects of potential flooding, flood waters still caused over $1 million in damages.
“It’s hard what we do,” she said. “The condition of the showroom is everything.”
Vincent Marconi, owner of on 650 Mamaroneck Ave., said that this year’s flooding put him out of business for 3-4 days.
“When you look across the street during a flood, that water ponds,” he said. “Some relief here would help a lot of people, not just me.”
In 2009, Myers said, a total of $4.5 million in county funds were bonded for flood mitigation projects in the Town of Mamaroneck, City of Rye/Village of Rye Brook, Village of Scarsdale, and the Village of Tarrytown. At this time, only the Gardens Lake project in Mamaroneck has been completed, with the remainder still in the early stages of development. Six more projects are in preliminary phases in New Rochelle, Yonkers, Briarcliff Manor, Harrison, Larchmont, Pelham and Bronxville, with no end date in sight.
Several other roadblocks stand in the way of quickly moving flood mitigation forward, said County Legislator Bill Ryan (D-White Plains), including a missed deadline for completion of the Reconnaissance Storm Water Management Plan—which serves as a basis for funding for flood mitigation projects—and an as yet to be nominated Storm Water Advisory Board, who must examine potential flood mitigation projects in advance of funding. It is unclear as to why these projects have stalled, said both Myers and Ryan.
“You don’t know when the next storm is coming,” Ryan said. “Storm water management is desperately needed right now.”
In May of 2010, the signed a $6 million five- year reevaluation study of the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake Rivers to identify potential flood mitigation strategies for the village. The first draft of the report is expected within 30 months of date the project started. The project will analyze low channel capacity, small bridge openings and poor river flow at the confluence of both rivers, among other flood-causing factors, and will consider several alternatives, such as channel modification and a diversion tunnel.
But, for now, the village is in need of immediate relief for homes and businesses that have been hit hard, some of which have threatened to leave entirely.
“We are going to lose businesses here—we can’t afford to lose businesses and the jobs they create or homeowners,” said Myers.