Danbury seeks flood relief as federal grants open to residents affected by remnants of Hurricane Ida

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DANBURY — As federal officials descended on Danbury this week to assess damage from the remnants of Hurricane Ida, city officials are working to prevent flooding.

The state is on board with a plan to add a pipe along Main Street that is expected to remedy flooding that has plagued a section of the road for decades. Meanwhile, the city is considering installing a separate pipe that could reduce flooding on West Street, in addition to pushing for a federal study of the Still River and its effects on flooding.

The projects come as the Federal Emergency Management Agency prepares to knock on residents’ doors to help those who may be eligible for federal grants due to damage from Ida.

“It’s a great effort that we’re starting with the people who have been impacted by the aftermath of this storm,” said Matthew Cassavechia, the city’s director of emergency management, who was one of Danbury’s leaders at meet with FEMA on Tuesday.

Conversations with FEMA focused on how residents were affected by the remnants of Hurricane Ida, but he and Mayor Joe Cavo said they hoped the meeting would help them improve city relations. with FEMA for future mitigation efforts.

Danbury officials directed FEMA to the neighborhoods worst damaged by the Sept. 2 storm, Cassavechia said. This includes the Glen Apartments, where some residents had to be evacuated during the storm. Parts of the city, including Federal Road, were flooded when the remnants of Hurricane Ida inundated the state.

FEMA will work with individuals and nonprofits to meet residents’ needs, which could include food, clothing or medicine, Cassavechia said. Teams will be knocking on doors over the next two weeks and wearing FEMA vests and badges, he said.

The city assesses its own damages and costs, submitting photographs, including aerial photographs, that show the effects of the storm. But FEMA is now focusing on individuals, Cassavechia said.

“We want to make sure our citizens are front and center,” he said.

Still River Study

Danbury is separately pushing FEMA to study the Still River and how it might affect flooding.

“We have so much more information now than we ever had,” Antonio Iadarola, the city’s director and public works engineer, told a city council meeting last week. “To be able to communicate this to FEMA where they can actually get their hands on it and understand that there is a single flood point that can be assessed and eventually eliminated is amazing.”

Although that project was not discussed on Tuesday, Cavo said he hoped the meeting would give the study some momentum.

“We’re happy to be on their radar,” he said.

FEMA appears interested in the study, which would examine the Still River from headwaters in the Kenosia area and into downtown, where a flood control project was conducted in the 1950s, Iadarola said. The city has been pushing for the study for the past two years, he said.

The study would include a dam behind Kingswood Kitchen on Beaver Street which Iadarola said “severely affects the capacity of the West Street Bridge” within half a mile.

“The fact that they are willing to do a preliminary study on this dam, which is one of the key elements of the flooding, as well as other areas of the Still River, is phenomenal news,” he said. he told the council. .

The US Army Corps of Engineers realigned the Still River in the 1970s, and the city would need his help again.

“It’s way above us,” Iadarola told the board.

Cavo hopes this study will explore how the city can be prepared for 100-year storms.

“We would certainly be extremely cooperative because it only benefits us, it benefits the people of Danbury, it benefits our businesses and our commuters,” he said.

Main and West streets

Some of the city’s work on West Street helped delay flooding during a rainstorm last month, but water finally arrived on the street later that night, Iadarola said.

He is studying the area and aims to install a new pipe to help, he said. However, there are plenty of utilities on the road from Beaver to West Streets, so the city will have to “thread a needle” between them, he said.

“Now that won’t solve the problem because the pipe I’m thinking of putting in there will only be able to accommodate smaller storms,” ​​Iadarola told the council. “But at least it will give the traveling public the opportunity to use this route in what would be a maybe five-year, 10-year storm.”

He studied drawings from the 1880s. The West Street Bridge was approved in March 1884 and built two years later.

“He has a lot of history,” Iadarola said. “There’s probably been a lot of flooding.”

Danbury is working with the state to install a pipe on Main Street to prevent flooding there as well.

The state has already done survey work on Main Street and is negotiating with the owner who would have to grant an easement so the state could install the pipe, Cavo said. The existing pipe is on private property and the new one must also pass through there, he said.

The city sent the state its design, which state officials widely appreciated, Cavo said. That should save time, he says.

Cavo hopes the project can be completed before winter, but the state has not said when construction will begin.

“For me, it can’t be soon enough,” he said. “It’s been happening for far too long.”

In the meantime, the state liked Danbury’s idea of ​​pumping water from Main Street during storms, promising to mobilize with a pump within an hour of the road flooding. The city’s experience with its pump was effective during the last major rainstorm and proved the new pipe would work because there were no problems downstream, Cavo said.

“We know this will work and we know the fix is ​​the right one,” he said.

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