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White Plains Targets River Flow One Year After Irene

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The City of White Plains will soon begin flood mitigation projects to improve water flow in the Mamaroneck River and repair damage done to the Greenway trail by Hurricane Irene, which deluged White Plains one year ago Tuesday.

In the storm’s aftermath, the city racked up more than $388,000 in costs for overtime and equipment to clean up debris from an estimated 500 downed trees — the main impact of Irene in White Plains, said Karen Pasquale, of the mayor’s office. The city was fully reimbursed for its costs, at 75 percent from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and 25 percent from the state.

DPW Commissioner Bud Nicoletti said White Plains didn’t qualify for FEMA’s hazard mitigation program because “it was not that badly off” compared to other municipalities hit by the storm.

The city did qualify for a roughly $12,000 national emergency grant (NEG) from the state Department of Labor, which will fund two projects. One will clean up debris left on the Greenway, a public, 1.7-mile trail, repairing or replacing the woodchip walkways. The project is expected to take about four weeks and require 10 workers and one DPW supervisor.

Irene also left damage and debris in the Mamaroneck River just south of Brockway place.

“If it’s loaded with debris and blocking the water flow, it can cause flooding and other issues downstream,” said Pasquale, who pointed to the Village of Mamaroneck’s flooding problems as one consequence. “So we’re going to clean the basin and the banks and the general area to hopefully improve the flow of the river, and hopefully have it look better as well.”

The project is expected to take about one week and requires five workers and one DPW supervisor, Pasquale said.

The Mamaroneck and Bronx rivers are the city’s two avenues of escape for stormwater, which funnels down to other municipalities. Following Irene, Westchester County legislators formed the Bronx River Advisory Board to work with its Department of Planning on improving the Bronx River’s stormwater capabilities. Nicoletti was named one of the board’s co-chairs.

“The Bronx River takes about one-third of the City of White Plains’ stormwater, so it’s an important thing for us,” said Nicoletti, who was also named the city’s storm weather management officer in 2008.

White Plains has little pockets that flood, such as the Cloverdale neighborhood, but its neighbors along the Long Island Sound with more low-lying areas suffer from both the Mamaroneck River and Bronx River’s runoff.

“Everyone knows flooding doesn’t respect municipal borders, and a lot of times, development and impervious surfaces upstream have an impact on what happens downstream,” Pasquale said. “It helps us, but it also helps the people who are our neighbors down the road,” she said of the flood mitigation projects.

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