It’s no secret Berlin has a bevy of issues when it rains a lot, and the public has addressed those concerns repeatedly for the last decade at least and most specifically over the last month as several significant flooding events have taken place.
During the two most recent meetings, as well as in a letter from Mayor Gee Williams stuffed in town electric bills this week, residents were advised to exercise patience and that long-term evaluations were underway and that an action plan would soon be discussed once the results of a stormwater study are released this fall.
Additionally, at this week’s meeting, Berlin Mayor Gee Williams advised all homeowners to purchase flood insurance to protect themselves, saying, “I think that flood insurance is a basic requirement for living in the Town of Berlin.” He added those who choose to forgo the insurance do so “at [their] own peril.”
That’s all well and good, but there are things the town can do to immediately improve matters.
One avenue that needs further consideration is the aging stormwater pipes that continue to be a problem for the Public Works Department as well as property owners, many of whom have to deal with enormous sink holes on their land as a result of the repeated cracking of the pipes that run under their properties.
The quickest action the town should take is immediately cleaning out the town’s ditches, many of which are overgrown with debris, grasses, weeds and hefty branches in many cases. It’s not going to make a huge difference in the 13-inch rain storms from last month, but perhaps it could have made a different in last Thursday’s storm event, which saw five inches recorded in one local resident’s gauge.
While these measures may or may not result in drainage improvements, there is no easy solution here, and Berlin residents will likely always have to deal with flooding issues during heavy rains. No matter what course the town charts in the future, there will always be areas prone to flooding, but it’s not something that sits well with many.
We all understand we have to be patient, and flood insurance surely is a wise move for those who cannot afford the extra annual burden, but it would be nice to see some immediate actions taken by the town and there are some steps that can be taken we believe.
As was the case in Ocean City, where a similar flooding study was commissioned, the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center’s recommendations will come with heavy funding requirements that the town likely will not be able to handle. However, the hope here is there will at least be some short-term help for property owners who should not have to continue to deal with the same problems every time a significant rainfall takes place.