In wake of 'Frankenstorm,' city is in good shape, city manager says

By Lynn R. Parks

Hurricane Sandy swept through western Sussex County early this week, dumping up to 8 inches of rain and knocking down trees with its 60-mile per hour winds. But in the city of Seaford, problems were minimal, said city manager Dolores Slatcher. "Overall we did extremely well, based on the wind and rain," Slatcher said on Tuesday afternoon.

The city's wastewater treatment plant worked overtime, treating far more wastewater than usual because of infiltration of rainwater and water from the Nanticoke River into the system.

During the height of the storm, Slatcher said, the plant was treating 2,400 gallons per minute; it usually treats 700 gallons per minute.

Overall on Monday, the plant, which is designed to treat 2 million gallons of waste a day, treated 3.270 million gallons. "The staff did an excellent job of sustaining that facility," Slatcher said.

The city streets experienced minimal flooding, with the worst on streets that run along the Nanticoke, Slatcher said. Even there, she added, streets were never impassable.

The brand new storm water management system just installed in east Seaford "worked as it was designed to do," Slatcher said. That meant that neighborhoods around Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church and near Nutter Park did not flood as they have in storms past.

On Porter Street, where the city is planning to put in another stormwater management system, city crews had to go out overnight on Monday to clean out two catch basins. Because of that effort, the street and yards did not flood.

As for power outages, homes in three areas, Woodside Manor between Rosetree and West Ivy Drive and Martin Farms between McKean and Read streets and between Rodney Street and Nylon Boulevard, were without electricity during some part of the storm.

The Woodside Manor outage affected several businesses, including the Valero gas station, Callaway, Farnell and Moore real estate and Peninsula Home Health, all on Stein Highway.

All three outages were caused by down trees and branches, Slatcher said. Crews had to wait until daybreak on Tuesday to start repairs, she added, and were finished by 4 p.m. that same day.

Slatcher had high praise for the all of the city crews. They did a "tremendous job," she said, not only during and after the storm but even in the days before Sandy hit, trimming and removing trees and cleaning out catch basins.

In particular, she praised the city's code department and the work that it does year-round to ensure that private storm water retention ponds are well maintained. "All of this work truly showed results during this storm," she said.

Slatcher also acknowledged city residents, "who were very understanding and cooperative with our crews so they could restore power."

Nanticoke River Bridge

As of Wednesday afternoon, the drawbridge over the Nanticoke River between Seaford and Blades was closed awaiting inspection. Delaware Department of Transportation spokesman Jeff Sundstrom said that any time a bridge is subject to flooding, the state inspects it to ensure its integrity before it is reopened to the public.

"We have no reason to believe that there is anything wrong with the bridge," Sundstrom said. "But we need to make absolutely sure."

Sundstrom was unable to say when the bridge inspection will be completed.

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