Overbrook residents face more flooding after recent rains
By Larry Perl
Jul 16, 2015 | 5:32 PM
Overbrook residents are struggling emotionally and physically to keep their heads above water after the latest flooding from heavy rains in the low-lying Towson neighborhood on Tuesday.
"We are not good at all," longtime Worthington Road resident Kristin Kluga said tearfully Thursday. She said 12 cars have been totaled and more than a dozen houses damaged by water. Her own basement had over a foot of water, she said.
"Our basement is being gutted now by a water restoration company," she said Thursday morning.
Similar flooding in late June caused Mark and Lisa Van Bavel's shed to wash into the Herring Run stream. They got it out, salvaged the contents, from lawn furniture to tools, and placed them under a tarp for protection. The tarp washed away in Tuesday's rain.
Mark Van Bavel said he is even more concerned about the erosion on his property.
"Another storm like Tuesday's and half my yard could end up in the Herring Run," he said.
Residents say flooding has been going on for decades in the neighborghood, and the recent rains come at a time when they are pushing the Baltimore County government to fix nearby stream and culvert problems that they say are causing much of the flooding. The county in April gave the community seven options — including allowing the county to purchase and raze six homes in a flood plain.
Kluga said residents are planning to meet later this month in an effort to come to a consensus on how they want the county to proceed. The options range in cost from $764,000 to more than $3 million, county officials say.
The community was planning to meet Tuesday night July 14 to talk about their options, but the meeting was canceled after flooding early Tuesday morning, said County Councilman David Marks, who represents the area and who checked in on the residents Tuesday morning.
"We're going to get the neighborhood together very soon to examine those options," Marks said Thursday, July 16.
Van Bavel said he was sorry the meeting was canceled, even with flooding problems.
"I would have gone," he said. "Something's gotta be done."
The main problem is that Herring Run Stream moves through the neighborhood in two directions and converges at a narrow culvert, or tunnel, under Stevenson Lane at the Country Club of Maryland, Kluga said in April. She said flash flooding occurs during heavy rains and the culvert is too small to handle it, causing backups.
The Van Bavel home sits in an especially precarious spot, where a tributary to the north, a channel to the east and Stevenson Lane to the south all converge at the Stevenson Lane Culvert, Kluga and county officials have said.
A bridge over the stream that used to be a main walking route for students and other residents to access Towson High School, Stoneleigh Elementary and the Wiltondale Pool and park has been declared by the county to be unsafe to cross, Kluga said.
Kluga wants the bridge repaired, the culvert widened and the banks restored.
Now, residents must decide which county option to lobby for — but with no guarantee of when the county would fund their choice.
And the option that Steven Walsh, chief of engineering and construction for the county Department of Public Works, has said he likes best would involve the county purchasing and removing six houses in a flood plain, on Stevenson Lane and Worthington Road, which means those residents would lose their houses. Under that option, houses at 806, 808 and 810 Stevenson Lane, and at 317, 319 and 321 Worthington Road would be purchased and torn down.
Van Bavel said he doesn't see a scenario in which his house wouldn't be taken, and he said he would try to find another house in the neighborhood if the county gives him fair market value for his current house.
Marks said Thursday that the flooding seems to be too severe, even in a flood plain, and that he and state Del. Steve Lafferty, who represents Towson, are trying to find out from Baltimore County Public Works "if there's anything upstream that's making the flooding worse."