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Monday, October 31, 2011

Family Seeks Answer to Flood

Linda Leenstra still panics whenever it rains even though it has been two months since flood waters from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee caused her family's house to


"The weather is dry now so that is good," Leenstra said. "I get panicky when it rains at night."

The family of four is still displaced after the foundation of their one-story house on Limecrest Road started caving into the basement. They are going to move the house 60 feet higher on the mountain to avoid future flooding, but they are once again battling unusual nature as Sussex County experienced its first snowstorm of the season.

Leenstra hopes that the snow will not delay plans to build the new foundation and move the house higher on the mountain, but mostly she hopes that the township and county will provide assistance and take responsibility for the 20 years of flooding on the property.

"We just wish the town will do something. I can't really pay a mortgage, rent and make repairs all at once," Leenstra said. "They are so afraid of litigation. I do not want to get to that point."

Leenstra blames the flooding on a 15-inch drain pipe on her property and water running off the slope from neighbors' properties. Her house and basement had been flooding for years prior to the hurricanes in August and September that ruined her home.

However, both the county and township are unclear about who is responsible for the pipe and flooding since the pipe runs under county-owned Limecrest Road, but it then connects into the township's pipes.

"This is a hugely complicated issue that has to do with ground water, water coming off a slope, huge draining areas (and) size of the pipe," County Administrator John Eskilson said. "It is not a simple matter by any means."

The county and township had a meeting about two weeks ago regarding the Leenstra family's problem, and they agreed that township Engineer Joe Golden would look at the piping and draining issues in the area, according to Eskilson.

Township Attorney Fred Semrau said that once Golden evaluates the matter, the county and township can discuss whose jurisdiction the issues fall into.

"(Golden) is trying to take a look to see what happened," Semrau said. "We don't even know if it has to do with the pipe or if those are things that have to do with an act of nature or even the property owner themselves."

Leenstra said that she wants the township and county to stop going back and forth.

"They agreed the pipes need to be bigger," she said. "They keep playing that back-and-forth game."

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