Army Corps to Extend Rehoboth Outfall Pipes After Flooding
A storm on Aug. 25 flooded the parking garage of the Brighton Suites Hotel in Rehoboth Beach, Del. (Photo: WBOC)
REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. - Longer drainage pipes may prevent major flooding in downtown Rehoboth Beach.
The Army Corps of Engineers plans to extend three existing outfall pipes further into the ocean between 18 and 36 feet, said agency spokesman Steve Rochette.
The move comes after a storm on Aug. 25 soaked the city, leaving several blocks under water. The city believes the pipes at Rehoboth Avenue, Delaware Avenue and Laurel Street clogged with sand, forcing the water to back up.
"There literally was two feet of water out in the middle of the street," said Jeremy Brockway, who owns a restaurant along Wilmington Avenue. "The sidewalk to the middle of the street, just like a river running down the entire street."
The water filled the basement level of the parking garage at the Brighton Suites Hotel totaling up to 26 vehicles, said hotel manager John Kleitz.
"The main problem was it just happened so fast, there wasn't a lot of time to react and try to get the cars that got totaled out of there in time," Kleitz said.
Storm water, which is not sewage, enters hundreds of drains throughout the city, travels through a pipe and exits into the ocean. Mayor Sam Cooper said the recent beach replenishment may have added too much sand where the pipes meet the ocean. As a result, Cooper said the pipes can fill with sand, especially at low tide, when there's no water pushing out of the pipe to clear a path.
The Army Corps continues to clean out the outfalls daily at low tide that occurs during daylight, Rochette said.
"They definitely need to make sure it doesn't block again because if it rained for another three hours, I think there would've been four feet of water out here," said Brockway.
The storm, which dropped nearly six inches of rain over 24 hours, was a unique event that also exceeded the storm drain capacity on three nearby streets, Rochette said. The city previously indicated a desire to recover losses for some of the damage. Rochette said preliminary results indicate there were would have been flooding if outfalls were fully functioning, partially blocked or fully blocked. The agency is still finalizing an analysis of the storm.
Negotiations over the cost of the pipe extensions are still on-going. The project could start by November, Rochette said.