As the Town Manager, Senator Carson and Al Baldasaro met with residents on the Brookview Drive Culdesac Monday night, just about one half an inch of rain had fallen from this weeks storm. This morning, Wednesday March 31st the storm total has reached 5.35 inches in South Londonderry. The children are once again pulled by boat to the parts of the Londonderry Roadway that are not underwater. From there they travel by car, unless it was not relocated from the flood zone in time.
This story was originally published in the Union Leader Tuesday Morning and was not available online. It is reprinted here with the written permission of the author.
By Alec O’Meara
Union Leader Correspondent
The rowboats may no longer be tied to front stoops, but the residents of Brookview Drive have reached out to town and state officials to see if a permanent solution can be found to what has become near annual flooding of the street.
Twice in the last month, the four homes at the end of the South Londonderry cul-du-sac have found their homes surrounded by a foot of water due to the heavy rains that have soaked the state. Neither flooding event was considered a surprise for residents or the town’s public safety officials, as Brookview has now flooded four times since 2006. Altogether, 29 separate flooding events have been recorded on the street over the last 36 years, longtime Brookview resident Bobby Fosmire said.
During both the Feb 27 and March 15 storms, All four homes along the cul-du-sac were inaccessible by car or truck, leaving the residents to use rowboats to come and go from the home. Up the road, several of the other homes on the street saw first-floor flooding, including Fosmire. The residents are so used to the flooding, the response is nearly routine for them. Sandbags protect garages and low doorways. Items likely to get damaged get relocated to higher floors. For Fosmire, attention during storms begins with a side door which opens to the lowest point on his property. Should he lose containment at that door, his first floor will see damage.
It’s a familiar story for residents. Jane McDonald of 19 Brookview Drive said she can’t keep any items in her basement because of annual flooding. There’s a mold issue as well, though resolving the issue is unlikely.
“Every time I try and get around to replacing the sheetrock, it makes no sense because it is just going to flood again,” McDonald said.
The issue, according to a report by the Army Corps of Engineers, is due to the two brooks on either side of the road. The brooks merge just past the end of Brookview, turning the entire region into a floodplain whenever a large spring storm passes through. Dredging the brooks would likely not resolve the issue, according to the report.
Last night, Senator Sharon Carson, State Representative Al Baldasaro and Town manager Dave Caron sat down with resident of the street to go over the possible grant options for solving the flooding on the street. Carson visited the street for the first time following the March 15 storm and said she was appalled at the living conditions the residents on the street were dealing with.
During the meeting, residents talked about reviving interest in a federal grant last looked at by residents in 2008. If approved, the Federal Emergency Management Agency would purchase the four homes at the end of the street at market value by the federal government, then destroy them. The land opened up by the purchase could then be used as an additional drainage area for the nearby brooks, giving added relief to the rest of the street.
Interest in the grant dried up at the town level, however, with the Londonderry Town Council voting against pursuing the grant because the town would be required to cover 20 percent of the cost to buy and raze the homes. The town portion was estimated at $215,000.
All four of the homeowners that would have to sell remain on board with the move, Caron said, adding the other viable options were to seek a purchase from the Conservation Commission or at Town Meeting. Both would be likely be politically difficult, Caron said.
“I don’t mean to be the skunk at the party, but these are two options as I see them from the town perspective, and they are both long shots,” Caron said.
“Those homes should have never been built, should never have been approved, if you ask me,” Fosmire said.
The two flooding events suggested it was time for the town to revisit that decision, Carson said, adding she has been in contact with U.S. Senator Judd Gregg’s office to see if there are any other grant opportunities or alternative options for the residents of Brookview to pursue.
After hearing from residents, Carson said the purpose of the meeting was to get all residents of the street together to find a permanent solution.
“This is a quality of life issue for these people, and it has been an issue for a number of years now,” Carson said. “Taking care of our neighbors is what we do here in Londonderry, even when it isn’t easy.”