By Joe Kuhn
Construction has finally began on the Cranford Drive Drainage Project, a massive excavation effort that will provide much needed relief to Rockland citizens living in the notorious flood zone. Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul were joined by residents of Cranford Street last Thursday for an official ground-breaking ceremony that marked the beginning of the long awaited project.
In the 30 years since the neighborhood was built, the people of Cranford Drive have been dealing with a “horrendous situation” with their homes being regularly flooded by the channel that runs behind the development. Storms like Hurricanes Sandy and Floyd have left residents with flooded basements, crippling flood insurance payments, and, in some cases, necessitated evacuation by rowboat for people trapped in their own homes.
The sound of excavators may have been “more welcoming than the sound of birds chirping,” joked Supervisor Hoehmann as he told the assembled residents how the project finally got off the ground. Hoehmann explained that the county government had spent decades discussing possible solutions to the flooding before receiving the funding necessary to resolve the issue. The supervisor thanked Congresswomen Nita Lowery for securing that funding and the governor’s office for providing it; the $5.1 million project represents a joint effort between the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (“GOSR”), Rockland County, and the Town of Clarkstown and will be completed by the fall of this year.
Construction crews have already began widening the channel so that water will flow through it freely rather than accumulate and spill over into nearby homes. In addition, excavation county crews will also replace the trees that grow alongside the channel with more absorbent species such as river birch, red oak, and sycamore. The new arbors will act as natural aquifers that can absorb runoff water while revitalizing and beautifying the land. All told the project will positively impact more than fifty homes, removing many of the properties from the flood plain and reducing the cost of flood insurance for every house on the street.
The Cranford Drive Drainage Project and many others like it have been given increased attention and funding by a state government that has become more concerned about the effects of global warming. “The specter of climate change is wreaking havoc in every corner of the state of NY,” warned Lieutenant Governor Hochul before concluding the ceremony. “Our job is to protect you and something like this (project) accomplishes that goal.”