Green infrastructure prevented hundreds of millions of dollars in damage
Washington, DC – During a hearing to review the efficacy of the nation’s flood system in 2011, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, hailed the Army Corps of Engineers for advanced planning that saved Ocean City, Maryland, and other local communities from more severe damage during the recent Atlantic coast storms. While not all communities escaped unscathed, the Army Corps Baltimore District was able to meet the challenge of a one-two punch of Hurricane Irene, which hit the eastern portion of the watershed Aug. 27-28, and Tropical Storm Lee, which hit two weeks later, and dumped more than 2 feet of rain in a two-week period on some parts of the watershed.
“Waters that overflowed their banks from coast to coast will make 2011 among the costliest years of flooding in U.S. history. As we deal with the reality of climate change, we will no doubt be seeing weather extremes like we saw earlier this year become the norm. That will put a whole new level of demands on the system that is already under tremendous pressure,” said Senator Cardin.
“As the recent storms approached the Maryland, the Chesapeake communities of Port Deposit and Havre de Grace, both of which hug the shoreline, had to be evacuated. They suffered some significant damage, but no loss of life. Given the storm’s severity, they were expecting worse. Thankfully, in the days before Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee struck, the Baltimore District reported that it controlled the levels of the reservoirs it controls on the Susquehanna River so that they were at optimum levels to contain expected heavy rains. Advanced planning helped save the beaches of Ocean City, Maryland, and surrounding towns.”
Since 1991 the Corps of Engineers has maintained a hurricane protection project at Ocean City. For a stretch of over eight miles, the Corps has raised the beach and built grass dunes. This ‘green infrastructure’ project once again proved its worth as no injuries were reported in Ocean City and property damage was minimal. This single project has protected Ocean City repeatedly with estimated damages avoided because of the project at over $300 million. And that figure does not include the savings from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee because the Corps doesn’t have final economic estimates yet.