By: Kara Murphy
“Truth is, when you’re going through a flood, you already are getting beaten down.” In reference to the accumulated effects of increased stormwater runoff, homeowner and Ambler Borough local of seventeen years expressed the struggles of living in a community defined by active floodplains. “The thing you need to be able to do is go about preparing your properties. And I’ve found that this is a hard thing to do when you have properties within a floodplain.”
On November 14th, stowed in the First Presbyterian Church of Ambler, the anticipated findings of the “Flooding and Stormwater Management for Ambler Area Watersheds” study was revealed and presented to the public. Coordinated by Temple University’s Center for Sustainable Communities, the event identified and prioritized stormwater improvements to mitigate water quality problems, derived primarily from non-point source pollutions, and flooding problems that residents have been facing for many years. Residents of the Ambler Borough and Whitpain and Upper Dublin Townships share a mutual and prominent concern of flood property damages.
Alongside the congregation of roughly 100 community residents that formed the audience, researchers from Temple University, municipalities and government agencies involved in the studies research dissected the findings. The Center for Sustainable Communities director, Dr. Jeffery Featherstone, and civil engineer Richard Fromuth, directed a presentation to the audience on the constructed implementation strategies, recommendations for the three urban watersheds, and stormwater management and flood mitigation plans. The municipalities and governmental agencies present included Ambler Borough, Upper Dublin Township, Whitpain Township, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Department of Environmental Protection Agency, and Federal Emergency Management Agency. A portion of the presentation was focused on the contributing actions of these teams involved in the study, specifically the Federal Emergency Management Agency whom explained their individual involvement in the study to the audience.
The event then transitioned into an interactive open conversation between the residents and the researcher team of Temple University’s Center of Sustainable Communities, the municipalities and government agencies. Among the many Ambler Borough residents who have been subject to the accumulated effects of increased runoff, the concern of property damages caused by flooding being comprehensive and significant was greatly expressed. Indisposed with anticipation to address such concerns, the microphone wove through the audience as residents shared specific questions, suggestions, and comments.
One topic of focus was the relationship residents have with flood insurance and the ways in which home owners have faced difficulty protecting property. Home owners that have properties in close proximity to bodies of water, such as Rose Creek, for example, expressed a common perhaps universal concern of property damages and an obligation to invest in expensive flood insurance. In addition to property damages, the audience questioned why certain areas were not included within the proposed flood management plans. Addressing this concern, researchers expressed that the areas that were most likely to be funded were of focus within the presentation. Although not covering all the locations subject to flooding within the presentation, the locations most vulnerable as a whole were focused upon. The underlying and most significant question of all was when and how the implementation strategies would be put into place. Addressed by The Federal Emergency Management Agency, it is believed the suggestions made within the study are most likely to be adopted in 2016 when the implementation process has proper funding. Until that point, the process to recovery has been initiated and was clearly demonstrated by the active public discussion concerning the Flooding and Storm Water Management for Ambler Area Watersheds study findings.