Cape Gazette

Lawmakers secure Oak Orchard flooding funds

By Ruth Briggs King, Gerald Hocker & Brian Pettyjohn | Aug 17, 2013

We are pleased to announce that we have been able to help secure state funding in this year’s Bond Bill to find solutions to the ongoing flooding problems in the Oak Orchard area.

We recently attended a meeting at the Indian River Volunteer Fire Company to listen to residents’ concerns and to let them know that approximately $100,000 will be used to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the problems related to improper drainage, often the result of tidal and storm-related flooding.

DNREC also attended the July 16 meeting and residents from throughout the community were able to express their concerns and share with them information about specific locations and problems that can be used as part of the future survey of the area.

We have been increasingly concerned that there are potential flaws with the permitting and approval processes, and possibly even with the recommended design process, on large-scale development projects. We have often heard from area residents such comments as, “There never had been a problem until the school (or insert the name of a particular development here) was built.” It seems that, over the course of the years and as development occurred, the situation was only made worse, instead of improved.

We are confident that as this Oak Orchard analysis is conducted, DNREC’s continued overall efforts on improving stormwater management will include a review of the impact that has been created by new developments’ "recommended plans.” A careful evaluation of the early stages of any project should help prevent future problems and help us remedy the current situation. For the County’s part, it is also our hope that they will review these types of concerns through their approval processes. A coordinated, countywide stormwater management effort is critical in moving forward.

Regarding the Oak Orchard project specifically, DNREC officials will take the next weeks to review problem areas in order to determine the exact scope of the work. The expectation, according to the department, is to have the consultant up to speed on the project by early September. DNREC has told us that the first task of the consultant will be to reach out to property owners in the community with a survey. This will then be followed by a public meeting to discuss the survey results with the intention of getting public input about a path forward.

In the meantime, it was also discussed at the July 16 meeting to form sub-groups of community members in order to gain as much input as possible on the problem areas. If you live in the Oak Orchard area and would like to be part of one of these public working groups, please contact one of our offices. We can be reached at, or We will be sure to pass along your information to DNREC.

We thank you for your continued patience while the ongoing flooding issues get addressed and we look forward to keeping you updated as this project moves forward.

Rep. Ruth Briggs King

37th District

Sen. Gerald Hocker

20th District

Sen. Brian Pettyjohn

19th District

Comments (2)
Posted by: Thomas Adams | Aug 18, 2013 18:48

Thank you Rep Briggs King for your efforts in addressing the flooding in Oak Orchard.  I note that you hope Sussex County govt will become involved in developing policies for coordination of storm water management, and of course your Republican colleague on Sussex Council, George Cole, represents Oak Orchard.  Have you heard from him at all?  I ask because he was not at the first meeting of the task force on Route 1 pedestrian safety.  I'm getting worried about him.


Posted by: Joan Deaver | Aug 28, 2013 10:11

I agree:that "...For the County’s part, it is also our hope that they will review these types of concerns through their approval processes. A coordinated, countywide stormwater management effort is critical in moving forward..."  In my first year, 2009 the conservation district asked us to adopt a drainage code.  I asked and one planning commissioner abruptly said they (the district)  are trying to get us to do their job for them. . The 4 council members refused too. Later, state legislators and the district  hired a bus so we could see the drainage problems.  Still the four members of council would not consider a drainage code. What does it take for the county to accept responsibility for the plans it approves?  It certainly is not in this year's budget. But thanks anyway  Representative Briggs-King, Senators Hocker and Pettyjohn.

If you wish to comment, please login.

The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.