Berlin Residents Discuss Flooding Woes

BERLIN — Residents of Berlin’s District 1 weighed in on flooding and other stormwater issues Wednesday during the first of five meetings between the town and the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center (EFC).

“We need to have a very comprehensive stormwater program,” EFC Director Joanne Throwe told the audience.

Several months ago, Berlin agreed to allow the EFC to conduct a stormwater feasibility study of the town. As part of that effort, Throwe highly encouraged public comment.

Members of the audience weren’t shy about taking up her offer.

“When I leave the house and it’s raining, I am up to my knees in water,” said Barb Gallagher, who lives on Nelson St.

Gallagher referred to the area around her house as “Lake Nelson” because of the flooding issues produced by almost any heavy rain.

“All we need is a big rain storm,” she said. “We don’t even need a hurricane.”

Bob Baker, who resides on Franklin Ave, complained about inadequate drainage near his property.

“Water stands back there sometimes three days,” he said, adding that in the summer the flooding generates mosquito issues.

Other common complaints include fear of how violent flooding can be, with multiple residents asserting that a heavy rain can actually cause waves when water rushes to the lowest elevation. Also, what future impact further development in the town, such as the new hospice and Cottages at Berlin might have on stormwater was discussed. Throwe explained that the more the town is developed, the more “impervious surfaces” are created.

Impervious surfaces are anything water can’t drain through, including pavement and asphalt, and having too much area become impervious will contribute to stormwater flooding. However, Throwe also noted that Berlin is well behind neighbors like Ocean City when it comes to how much of the town is impervious.

After giving the audience a chance to voice worries, Throwe tried to impart a general idea of what comes next.

“We’re not going to solve all of the problems tonight,” she said.

Instead, the comments received Wednesday will be documented, along with any pictures of flooding and will be added to the information gathered from the next four meetings, where residents in Berlin’s other districts will have a chance to provide input. In the end, said Throwe, her team will have an idea of what areas need to be prioritized and what steps can be taken to minimize stormwater impact and will in turn send that report to town leadership.

Residents of Berlin’s District 2 should attend the next meeting on Oct. 18 in town hall.