By CHRIS EBERHART
The Village of Bronxville received a $5 million flood grant from FEMA for flood mitigation around the Bronxville school and Midland Avenue near the Bronx River.
The grant has been in the works since 2007, Bronxville Superintendent David Quattrone said, when the school was hit by a nor’easter and took on four to six feet of water.
“I’ve been here for eight years and the worst flood I remember was April 15, 2007,” Quattrone said. “There was about four to six feet of water on the bottom floor of the building. It cost about $20 million in renovations and the bottom floor was out of commission for a year.”
Bronxville High School Principal Ann Meyer, who was an advanced placement environmental science teacher during the 2007 and 2010 floods, said those events were “crazy.”
“We were out of school for two weeks right before the AP test,” Meyer said. “All the classrooms, the guidance office and the high school office on the bottom floor were completely destroyed. And students’ homes in the area were damaged, too.”
Since then, Quattrone said the school took precautions to avoid another disaster, such as relocating computer labs and offices, rebuilding the bottom floor so infrastructures like air conditioning systems were closer to the ceiling than to the floor and rebuilding with water-resistant porcelain tiles so it would be easier to clean up after a flood.
But, all the precautions couldn’t guard against another flood in 2010.
Meyer said the precautions did help the school recover much quicker, but it was still damaging, especially to the wooden gymnasium floor.
Bronxville Mayor Mary Marvin, a Republican, said the school sits at the lowest point in the village and experiences the worst flooding, which is why an overwhelming majority of the grant will be set aside for flood mitigation around the school. A smaller portion of grant money will be used to upgrade the pipe that runs from the school to Midland Avenue near the Bronx River.
While the plan is still in its design phase, Quattrone said the basic idea is to install large, underground detention tanks that will hold floodwaters until the Bronx River’s water level lowers. He said, for that to happen, a pumping station will also have to be built on school property.
Marvin said FEMA will pay 75 percent of the $5 million, which was among the last such grants FEMA issued, and the village will pay the remaining quarter.
“The approval process with FEMA moved at a glacier’s pace,” Marvin said. “But we’re happy we were approved.”