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Riverdale residents want flooding issues fixed

The town of Riverdale Park sent Prince George's County's Executive and Council a letter urging the need for improvements to the area's stormwater infrastructure.

RIVERDALE PARK, Md. — Prince George’s County residents, in the Riverdale area, say more must be done to protect their homes from devastating floods.

Riverdale Park and surrounding communities have experienced three flash floods in a month’s time that have damaged everything from cars to homes.

The first flood happened on July 3rd. While this week, two severe floods impacted the area in a three-day span.

Andrea Oliver has lived in the unincorporated Riverdale community, east of the BW Parkway, for the last four years. She said her home has been inundated with water, twice this summer, despite having three sump pumps and a drain on her property.

“I honestly don't know where I'm going to go, but I know I can't stay here,” Oliver said.

Mold has also collected in parts of Oliver’s home, which sits at the bottom of a hill. She said the person who sold her the home never told her about the recurrent flooding experienced in the area.

Wednesday’s storms hit Oliver’s house particularly hard as rainwater covered the entirety of the first floor. She said she now must stay in a hotel and possibly spend thousands of more dollars on repairs due to this latest flooding incident.

“I literally have invested thousands and thousands of dollars trying to resolve this issue and it's still flooding,” Oliver said.

The Town of Riverdale Park, less than a mile away, continues to deal with its own issues related to flooding. Riverdale Park, which sits on the Northeast Branch of the Anacostia River, has seen floodwaters surround entire apartment complexes.

On Monday, more than a dozen cars in Riverdale Park were rendered inoperable in flood-prone areas around Riverdale Road, East-West Highway, and Kenilworth Avenue.

After July’s flood, the Riverdale Park Council and the town’s Mayor Alan Thompson approved a resolution calling on Prince George’s County to take decisive action to provide relief to residents and businesses that have been continuously impacted by flooding.

In a letter to the Prince George’s County Council and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, Thompson wrote that Riverdale Park had urgent concerns about the condition and capacity of Prince George’s County’s stormwater management infrastructure and that something needed to be done to design, fund, and construct new and improved infrastructure along the Northeast Branch of the Anacostia River and its tributaries.

“The real estate development over the last several decades, primarily west and north of the Town’s corporate boundaries, has increased impervious surfaces resulting in higher volumes of water runoff,” Thompson’s letter reads. “Climate change is also creating more severe storms and increased run-off, and these storms cause significant anxiety among town residents, business owners, the residents of our neighboring municipalities, and commuters who rely on the arterial roadways and public transportation network through Riverdale Park.”

Riverdale Park Town Manager John Lestitian said that a Prince George’s County Official had acknowledged receipt of the Mayor’s letter. However, it remains unclear as to what action, if any, County leaders will take in response to Riverdale Park’s demands.

A spokesperson for Alsobrooks’ office said this week’s flooding incidents primarily occurred around state-maintained roads like Kenilworth Avenue and East-West Highway.

“As we saw flooding issues on those roads and saw storm drains there that were being clogged with debris, our Department of Public Works & Transportation reached out to the state to flag it for them so immediate issues could be addressed,” said Anthony McAuliffe, deputy director of communications for Executive Alsobrooks.

The Maryland State Highway Administration released the following statement:

"Whenever a storm is forecasted to produce heavy rain, the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) works in advance to clear inlets and drainage systems as much as possible. However, there are occasions when storms come up quickly, prohibiting this work from being done in advance. This week's storm produced extraordinary amounts of rain in a very short amount of time, which overwhelmed many drainage structures. Our crews have been deploying flusher trucks to inspect and clean inlets in the Riverdale Park area. Litter is an issue statewide and that affects drainage, so we continue to remind the public to pitch trash where it belongs. Additionally, we encourage citizens to report any issues with state roadways via our customer service link, which is available here.

Still, both Riverdale Park and Oliver, who lives in an unincorporated part of Prince George’s County, are calling on County leaders to act.

“In [Riverdale], you have a lot of working-class and middle-class families, primarily Hispanic,” Oliver said. “Many of them don't speak English. Many of them may not be here legally, and so they're afraid to speak up. But, I know that many of them have been dealing with the flooding as well, but they don't feel that they have a voice.”

Oliver added she may consider moving out of the Riverdale area due to all the flooding.

“I’m a first-time homebuyer,” she said. “I love this house. I want to stay here, but how can I stay in a place that continues to flood?”

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