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Flooding remains problem for Nelson Street resident

BERLIN– Nelson Street resident Barbara Gallagher has been dealing with severe drainage problems for more than a decade.
Gallagher made her voice heard during a mayor and council meeting on May 27, complaining that town government had failed to address the stormwater problem after improvements were promised last year.
The first time she noticed the problem – 15 years ago – she expected the worst.
“We had been here about two weeks and we had one of those summer cloudbursts, and I looked out the window and said, ‘oh dear God I forgot to buy flood insurance,’” Gallagher said. “The whole street was underwater. It starts around my house and swells out. It’s a terrible inconvenience.
“The street fills up and comes back in between my neighbor’s and my yard,” she continued. “They’ve lived here all their lives – they’ve really put up with this for a long, long time. I’ve only had to deal with it for about 15 years.”
Gallagher keeps a pair of boots by the door and another in her car in anticipation of rain.
Several years ago Perdue officials dug a trench in their property and filled it with what Gallagher believed to be Crush n Run in an attempt to alleviate flooding.
“The town had them cement over it, so now it’s like a dam,” she said. “The water just spills over it and back onto the street and into our property. When cars go by if they’re going at any rate of speed it throws the water up, comes in here and takes the mulch and carries it away.”
According to Gallagher, the problem hasn’t improved since upgrades were completed on West Street last year. The town is currently applying for grants that would fund the Hudson Branch Stormwater Project that includes improvements on Williams and Flower streets, following by upgrades on Graham, Grice and Nelson.
A year ago Gallagher said Berlin officials promised to begin the upgrades on Nelson Street.
“They’ve had several meetings and hearings, and they’ve had the Army Corps of Engineers come here and check it out – that was pre-Afghanistan,” she said. “The first time I went to a town meeting I had a picture of my dog swimming in the yard and the comment that I got was, ‘it looks like they’re having fun.’ Well, I can take them over to Bayside and Assateague and have them swim too. That was probably eight or nine years ago.
“Last year we were told that they were going to fix it and that we were on the top of the list,” Gallagher continued. “As they said (at the last meeting) we’re third on the list now, but the thing is that there are only three people on the list. So we’re at the bottom of the list, basically.”
Gallagher was told construction had to begin on Williams Street in order for the flow of flood waters to be properly dispersed throughout the area.
“I can understand that,” she said. “But it is frustrating. It was a different program last year and from what I understand we didn’t have the money then.”
Gallagher estimates she has lost hundreds of dollars of mulch, as well as her original fence.
“When we get a very bad rain it comes up to the foundation onto the side of my house and into the neighbor’s yard where it floods terribly,” she said. “It’s gone into their shed, the yard behind it; we’re all just water-bound.”
Stormwater officially became a utility in Berlin last year as the town attempted to deal with the decades-long problem of flooding.
“We were very impressed and hopeful,” Gallagher said. “But now it’s just hurry up and wait again and we just have to put up with it.
 “It’s just the frustration of it,” Gallagher continued. “I know flooding is a problem everywhere in Berlin and I always ask dumb questions like, ‘if you knew it was there and you knew building more houses would increase the problem why are we building more houses?’ And I was told, ‘that’s progress.’  
“Oh well. My boots are ever-ready,” she said.