20 Aug 2014
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Flood Weary Residents Want Better Drainage and Help

Residents filled the selectmen's room Wednesday and stood in the hall, saying the town needs to improve its drainage to prevent future floods.

Flood Weary Residents Want Better Drainage and Help Flood Weary Residents Want Better Drainage and Help

Linden Avenue residents Steve Simmons and Bill Mark told something has to be done to prevent Swampscott flooding in the future.

Both residents saw their basements fill with water in the flash-flooding that struck hundreds of homes in Swampscott last week.

The two homeowners were among a crowd of about 60 people at the selectmen's meeting Wednesday, some of whom were there for another agenda item — the proposed sale of town-owned proeprties. 

Simmons said the town needs a wholehearted, comprehensive review of its drainage system.

"The (golf course) greens were all flooded and the water has to go somewhere, and guess where it came — my house," he said.

About 350 Swampscott people reported flood damage to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency last week.

Mark, whose home sewer system overflowed, said many people who were hurt by the flooding were afraid to report it for fear that their home values would suffer if word got out that their homes flood.

Town Administrator Andrew Maylor said later that the town could see some benefit from reviewing its drainage design but, ultimately, it was affected the same way that any similarly situated town would have been under the circumstances.

Those circumstances were 6 inches of rain in 90 minutes at high tide in a town where storm water drains to the sea, he said.

Another resident said the town should have declared an emergency, such as other surrounding towns did.

The town administrator said the declaration would not have helped because federal funding for disasters is determined by the number of households in the county that were damaged.

"It wouldn't have hurt," Maylor said of the emergency declaration, "but it would have helped."

It would not influence people's insurance coverage or federal disaster aid, he said.

The resident responded that it might not have made a difference financially but it would have had a psychological benefit for people to know that there was a public recognition that what they were facing was an emergency.

Later in the meeting, Maylor said the town put its efforts into helping its residents.

Police plucked people from cars filling with water and made 228 house calls, he said.

Firefighters went to 100 homes and Public Works crews and Director Gino Cresta worked tirelessly to restore roads.

Administrative Assistant Maureen Shultz respond to 200 telephone calls, he said.

Board members also praised the town departments and Maylor's dogged efforts to get federal officials to come to Swampscott to review the damage and take damage reports.

The town has yet to receive word on whether it will receive federal disaster relief or qualify for loans from the Small Business Adminsitration.

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