Construction is underway on a series of vulnerable structures along the Delaware River to better protect local towns from flooding waters caused by powerful storms such as Sandy.
Superstorm Sandy served as a wake up call on many projects that have been considered but needed a push to get started like one to rebuild New Castle County dikes. Over time a number of dikes designed to keep flooding waters from penetrating land have begun to deteriorate. Located just north of the Delaware Industrial Complex is a structure called the Red Lion dike. It’s the first of 4 dikes in New Castle County that needed immediate attention after Superstorm Sandy devastated much of New Jersey in October 2012.
“I think what we saw in Jersey is that when these systems fail, it doesn’t just hurt the habitat, wildlife, and beaches and things like that but families got displaced, businesses shut down and all of sudden it wasn’t just a DNREC priority, it was a priority for the entire administration,” said Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O’Mara.
In August, state leaders including Gov. Jack Markell, D-Del., surveyed five vulnerable structures along the Delaware River called Army Creek, Broad, Gambacorta Marsh and Buttonwood Creek dikes which have suffered due to severe storms and erosion. Coastal hazards actually became apparent in the state after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans but more concerns came about after some of last year’s big storms.
“About three years before Hurricane Sandy, we had conducted assessments on the dikes, and realized that they needed to be reconstructed. With the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy, the damage of the dikes became significantly worse,” said Bonnie Arvay, Environmental Scientist.
As part of the rebuilding process of the dikes, erosion control fences are being built up to nine feet in some areas. The goal is for all of them to be completed within a year or less so the state which is primarily funding these projects is better prepared next season. In fact, contracts were recently secured for three more dike projects and ork will begin in November.
“The state has realized the need to protect these cities and wants to protect these areas. The state legislatures have put forth over $7-million for reconstruction of these projects. There are some monies coming from FEMA because of the damages that occurred from hurricane Sandy,” said Arvay.
If the dikes are maintained well they could last for a hundred years.