Delaware officials tour vulnerable structures along river [video]

Last year just before Hurricane Sandy ripped through the state, Gov. Jack Markell noticed Delaware was vulnerable in many areas, especially along the Delaware River where embankments of earth and rock commonly known as dikes were built to prevent floods.

One example is the Red Lion Dike. Once in terrible shape, it’s now under construction. It’s located just north of the Delaware Industrial complex on property owned by Delmarva Power and Light. Construction work is underway to install an erosion control fence and reconstruct the dike to protect against high tide.

“We are a low-lying state, we’re highly vulnerable and we’ve got work to do,” Markell said.

Markell, along with state legislators and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, took a boat ride Tuesday to tour the Red Lion Dike construction site, as well as survey other areas of the Delaware River where dikes are in need of some improvements.

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“We know how important it is to protect the coastline, so I’m please to see the work underway,” he said. “Yesterday I saw the restoration down at the Indian River Inlet, so there’s a lot of work to do to preserve Delaware’s coast.”

There are a total of five dikes along the Delaware River that have suffered due to severe storms and erosion. In October 2012, steps were taken prior to Hurricane Sandy to stabilize Red Lion Dike with loads of sandbags that only prevented the storm from fully penetrating low sections of the dike.

“This is one of the reasons that we think is so important to make sure we’ve got funding available to continue to do these kinds of assets to protect the infrastructure, because it can do significant damage if these dikes are breached,” Markell said.

Red Lion Dike is expected to be fully reconstructed within the next three months. After that, Army Creek, Broad, Gambacorta Marsh and Buttonwood Creek dikes will see some improvements once the permits are secured.

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