Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy is hoping to significantly reduce flood damage on Long Island streets through a new water control system he designed and started using in his village.
Kennedy, a longtime mechanical contractor, said the system will prevent most nonstorm street flooding, which plagues Freeport and other South Shore communities at high tide or in heavy rains.
"It's going to prevent millions in damages to residents' homes and vehicles, and also will help with the responses of emergency vehicles -- not just here, but wherever it's implemented," Kennedy said.
The system relies on "check valves" that fit into drainage pipes and prevent water from backing up and flooding streets.
Last month, he gave a presentation about his project to Lindenhurst officials, including Mayor Thomas Brennan, who said that after seeing "the benefits" of Freeport's drainage system using the valves, he plans to try it in often-flooded areas of his community.
Kennedy said that as a trustee in late 2011 after Tropical Storm Irene, he suggested to then-Mayor Andrew Hardwick that the valves be installed. "To his credit, he got two of them put in," Kennedy said.
Since Kennedy became mayor in April 2013, the village has installed 20 more check valves along the South Long Beach Avenue waterfront. Plans call for adding water pumps and enlarged catch basins to hold the water before it's routed into Randall Bay. The pumps will be designed to move as much as 11,000 gallons of water per minute and work with fresh or salt water, he said.
"We expect to send out a request for bids on the expanded project this month," Kennedy said, adding that the valves cost about $8,000 each.
Kelley Martinez, a member of the Freeport Harbor Civic Association, said the valves already installed "have mitigated substantially all of the 'nuisance' flooding that some of these low-lying areas were previously subject to."
A $110,000 state grant secured by former State Sen. Charles Fuschillo of Merrick paid for the valves, while the village provided $40,000 in labor, material and development, Kennedy said.
He estimated that the expanded project will cost "maybe about $3 million for the 25 to 30 blocks where it's needed in the village."
"We're looking for state grants from New York Rising . . . and the governor to fund all or most of the new pumps and enlarged catch basins," Kennedy said. "We'll start with one area -- between Hudson and Guy Lombardo, from Howard to Front streets -- at a cost of between $750,000 and a million dollars."
East Rockaway and the Town of Hempstead use similar valves, but not in conjunction with water pumps and enlarged basins.
The town also relies on culverts, raised road and other infrastructure to control runoff and flooding, said spokesman Michael Deery.
East Rockaway only uses valves, which village engineer Juan Garcia said "haven't helped us in heavy rains." But that's "exactly why we added the pumps and widened catch basins," Kennedy said.