‘Money Well Spent’ Protects Hamlet from Floods

A perennial problem in a rural hamlet in Delaware County reportedly worsened dangerously in 1996 when severe storms and flooding overwhelmed a creek and diverted its flow into the hamlet of DeLancey, damaging nearly every home in the community.

However, taking advantage of the New York State Emergency Management Office and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, DeLancey has been spared a repetition of the damage those storms brought in spite of severe weather in the intervening years, said Town of Hamden Supervisor Wayne Marshfield.

At the request of Gov. George Pataki, the President signed a major disaster declaration as a result of the 1996 flooding, triggering federal and state disaster funds for 41 counties in New York State, including Delaware.

“We had a tremendous flood. Part of the embankment of Bagley Brook slid away, forcing the brook into the hamlet and causing damage to nearly everyone there, about 65 homes,” Marshfield recalled. “Every time something happens – every time a major flooding event comes along – it isolates that community. Nobody could get to them and they couldn’t get out.”

The hazard mitigation grant program provides assistance to state and local governments to implement long-term measures that reduce the loss of life and property due to natural disasters, and to initiate those measures immediately following an event.

“Mitigation activities such as these are a smart way of doing business by expending monies now to lessen the threat on communities before an event occurs in the future,” said SEMO Director James Tuffey.

In the Town of Hamden, a stream stabilization project was undertaken on Bagley Brook. Gravel deposits were removed, the stream channel was restored and straightened and stone riprap was installed to control erosion. The project was completed in 1999 at a total cost of about $48,000, of which the federal share was about $36,000.

The region has seen several disasters since then, including storms that would almost certainly have eroded the stream bank again, but DeLancey has come through them without severe problems, said Marshfield.

“It’s been years and the project has worked,” he added. “It was money well spent.”