After years of discussions, it appears Oak Orchard residents will get some relief from flooding.
During a meeting Oct. 16 at the Indian River Volunteer Fire Station, Rep. Ruth Briggs King, R-Georgetown, and Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control officials announced funding is in place for two of five projects.
In an interview Oct. 30, King said final permitting processes are taking place, but she expected work on the two projects to begin in the spring 2020. She said $500,000 was secured for these two projects in the Bond Bill as part of the Fiscal Year 2019-20 budget passed by state legislators in June.
According to the recent presentation, the two projects include a number of stormwater drainage upgrades and replacements near Mercer Avenue, and a project near Captain’s Grant off Oak Orchard Road to rebuild an outfall and replace a culvert under Oak Orchard Road. During a presentation prepared for a similar meeting in 2015, the estimated cost for these two projects was approximately $294,000.
The three projects that have not received funding include two that increase stormwater outfall capacity and build bulkheads along River Road near Chiefs Road and Cerise Avenue. The third would upgrade the storm drain system in the Oak Meadows neighborhood. The estimated cost of those three projects, in 2015, was roughly $2.8 million.
Recognizing funding has gone to the two least costly projects, King said those projects give the state and residents the best bang for the buck. She said in addition to funding, there are still landowner easement agreements needed for the three remaining projects.
King said some of the people in attendance at the Oct. 16 meeting complained Sussex County officials continue to allow development in the areas surrounding Oak Orchard, which only exacerbates flooding. She said there was at least one county official at the meeting, which she said is a good thing, because it’s important for them to hear how decisions they make on development in one area have effects in other areas.
King said she’s not sure when, or if, there will ever be a full cure for flooding in Oak Orchard. It’s impossible to control Mother Nature, she said. What can be done is to find a way to get the water out as quickly as possible, she said.