OAK ORCHARD, Del.- Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control on Thursday evening revealed solutions on how to improve drainage in the flood-prone town of Oak Orchard.
At a public meeting held inside the Indian River Volunteer Fire Company hall, homeowners asked questions, shared their concerns and offered suggestions about the plans DNREC had to offer.
Frank Piorko, the director of DNREC's Division of Watershed Stewardship, outlined the department's plans in a presentation to the crowd of more than 50 residents.
Piorko said URS, the Millsboro-based engineering company DNREC is consulting with, compiled a list of 30 possible solutions for drainage after seeking input from residents through surveys.
Out of those 30 options, Piorko said a number of factors went into ranking the priority level of each area that has drainage issues. Some factors include cost, project size and the most vulnerable streets.
"What we're trying to accomplish are two things," Piorko said, "we want to normalize the rainfall events that are common. In other words, help get the water out of the community as quickly as possible when we do have a rainfall event."
Piorko said DNREC also wants to explore retrofitting existing land.
"Maybe try and retrofit or put some tidal barriers to some of the culverts going out into the river," said Piorko.
Plans include setting up drainage systems in the town's most problematic areas first, starting with River Road near Chiefs Road.
DNREC says once the first five projects at the top of the priority list are addressed, the department would then repeat the process of ranking Oak Orchard's most problematic areas. But some at the meeting questioned why their streets weren't at the top of the list now.
"It just means that we're trying to work through these 30-plus possible solutions in the community with the resources that we have. We're trying to prioritize them right now to get the most bang for our buck," said Piorko.
One woman who attended the meeting said she's not convinced that drainage should be the focus. But says she's just hoping for real action to happen after the meeting.
"Just for someone to take a suggestion seriously," said Jennifer Hartranft. "Just a small 2-foot wall for a short distance at two-and-a-half blocks would be very inexpensive."
But inexpensive is not something this project will likely turn out to be. Funding is the next hurdle state representatives for Oak Orchard will have to face in order to make a change for residents.