Concern Across Connecticut Over New Flooding, Thanks to Lee - NECN

Concern Across Connecticut Over New Flooding, Thanks to Lee



    (NECN: Brian Burnell, Connecticut) – Less than a week after tropical storm Irene hit Connecticut hard, there is concern across the state over the potential for new flooding thanks to the remnants of tropical storm Lee.

    The Stevenson Dam along the Housatonic River here in Connecticut is open for business.  The trouble is all that water flowing over the dam there can flood out houses down there.

    This small, riverbank community in Derby is downstream from the dam and the people here deal with flooding almost annually.  Back in the spring this area was hit hard when heavy rains and snowmelt swelled the river and sent over its banks and into their homes.  It is over flood stage now with more rain forecast.

    "Another foot or two, I don't think I'm too concerned.  Last spring it came all the way up to the back of our deck.  Never came in the house.  And last spring was bad.  Last week was the hurricane and we were still okay," said Felicia Kalapos of Derby, CT.

    Last spring was definitely worse than last weekend.  David Zitnay keeps a close eye on the flow charts the company that owns the dam, First Energy, releases showing how much water is flowing over.  He says last spring he had about six inches in the house.  Last weekend it was three inches.  This is nothing compared to that.  He also believes First Energy could do more to control the flooding.

    "If the river lowered eight, 10 feet at the dam prior to the rain and they flowed the water that they're flowing now which is at moderate flood level, let it continue to flow at the same rate even as its filling they could have kept it from the serious floods that happened both times," said Derby resident Zitnay.

    And there are those who worry about the dam itself with so much water roaring through.

    "Every time I drive over this dam I'm always nervous.  What if it breaks?  What if I'm the one on it?” said Kelly Reutzel of Oxford, CT. “I have friends who live in the valley.  We talk about it all the time."

    As we've mentioned this all comes on the heels of Irene and pertaining to that the governor has announced FEMA is opening up disaster centers in every county of the state, two of them in New Haven County which was hardest hit.