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When the south shore experiences heavy rain, flooding is expected to occur. As the rainwater floods the bays and canals, salt water floods over the bulkheads and causes additional flooding damage on roads and properties. In addition to flooding above ground, the salt water is pushed back into the drainage pipes underground, causing a surge within the pipes and overflow. All of this surge of water, both rain and salt water, adds to the contamination of the Great South Bay.
FEMA has designated most of the area as an AE6 Flood Zone, which means that anything less than six feet above sea level is prone to flooding. To find out if you live in a flood zone in Suffolk County, check out the online map at Suffolk County Flood Maps.
Raising the grade in an entire area is impossible for any village, town or county to accomplish for budgetary reasons, but homeowners and business owners are encouraged to make grade and drainage improvements on their own properties.
Flapper valves were installed on the water side of several drainage pipes only to have them seal up in the closed position with marine life causing flooding during normal rain events. These valves require a lot of maintenance and, since there are potentially thousands of locations that these can be installed, this is not a feasible solution.
At one time, duckbill valves were mounted on the outside of Town controlled bulkheads to prevent contaminations due to the backflow of water. A duckbill valve is generally made out of rubber and shaped like the beak of a duck. They are more costly than flapper valves and boats tended to break them off when docking. In addition, they also had a tendency to freeze in the winter, which makes them non-viable solutions.
In certain areas, the Town built catch basins that serve to hold stormwater in rain events. However, because of the high water table, the catch basins are often ½ full most of the time causing a mosquito problem (so they don't work in every area).
The Town is committed to developing new and affordable solutions for the flooding problems along the shore line and will work with the residents and businesses in those areas.