In case you haven’t noticed, Cornwall is having a smoky, wet, climate-impacted summer. The most recent event was the huge downpour on Sunday, July 9. Most roads are open now, but people should be aware that the ground is still saturated and not capable of absorbing a lot of new rainfall. And it’s not even hurricane season.
According to First Selectman Ridgway, on Sunday you could hear the boulders rolling down Mill Brook; part of the recently built retaining wall where it meets the Housatonic vanished into the river. The biggest damage seems to have been by the railroad tracks near the entrance gates to Trinity Retreat Center in West Cornwall. Here a culvert that’s been in place on Lower River Road since 1845 became clogged, undermining the tracks in two places by washing out the ballast forming the railbed.
Blocked culverts were also the culprit for much of the flooding in other parts of town. And most dirt roads in town sustained significant damage, isolating some houses. Remarked Ridgway: “I love dirt roads but thank god for asphalt.”
Some places in Cornwall recorded up to a foot of rain, producing a water level close to that of the 1955 flood. The crucial factor is not how much rain, but the condition of the ground. Cornwall Highway Chief Jim Vanicky says that as of Wednesday noon the crew had had a chance to check out and where necessary repair only about a third of the culverts in town. We’re set up for a bad summer: now is the time to check the drainage patterns near your house, purchase a sump pump, and get ready for more stormy weather.
For some impressive pictures of the local flooding, visit https://cornwallct.org/2023/07/10/what-a-storm/.
—Paul De Angelis
📷: Rail Bed Washout by Trinity Retreat Center – cornwallct.org