RAHWAY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Residents in a Union County town say their properties are flooding because of a neglected creek that runs behind their homes, and that city officials won’t take responsibility.
Daniel Gagnon’s backyard on Lentz Court in Rahway on July 22 was filled with water, mud and other debris after Orchard Creek, which is behind his home, flowed onto his property, into the street and across to neighbors.
“I don’t think it should be something we have to deal with with every thunderstorm,” Gagnon said.
Gagnon has lived at the home since 2015. He and up to a dozen other homeowners have had some minor flooding caused by the creek but nothing like what happened on July 22 and Aug. 7.
He walked to the creek with CBS2’s Meg Baker on Monday to highlight what he says are some of the problems.
Sediment is built up like sand bars, stopping the free flow of the water. You can see it is stagnant in areas. All along the creek the retaining wall is collapsing, causing more erosion.
Rahway’s Department of Public Works did come out in September to remove branches that created a dam of sorts, but Gagnon said there is still more work to be done.
“The town, they’re trying to put this on homeowners. That’s I think unacceptable,” Gagnon said.
The city blames flash floods.
“Some of the properties in question are in a FEMA-designated flood hazard area. So you had extremely heavy rain events, flash flooding that occurred, that was experienced in designated flood hazard areas,” Rahway Business Administrator Bob Landolfi said.
The city said it is retaining an engineer as a consultant to determine if water is moving properly through the flood plane and creek.
When asked if the city still won’t take responsibility for the creek, Landolfi said, “The city will take responsibility for what is our responsibility, and that’s what we’re in the process of determining now.”
Gagnon started an online petition calling on officials to come up with a plan for a long-term solution, but he said until the city acknowledges there is a problem it seems residents will be stuck in the mud.
The Department of Public Works web page says it maintains drainage and cleaning of brooks, creeks and culverts along with flood control and levee maintenance.