delware environmental institute

News Journal: New Castle levees under scrutiny

News Journal: New Castle levees under scrutiny

Coastal dikes in northern Delaware survived Superstorm Sandy without major breaches, but officials got a preview of just how vulnerable the levees could be during the catastrophic weather. Pounding surf and tides eroded chunks of the earthen structures, depositing mounds of debris on them and uprooting trees during the storm that struck the Atlantic coastline in late October.

Crews have since filled in the cut-away areas with riprap and reinforced weakened areas with 200 one-ton bags of sand, but the damage – estimated at nearly $3.57 million – has prompted leaders to bump up a series of refurbishment projects, previously expected to roll out over several years, dike by dike.

“Not that folks weren’t aware before, but it’s one thing to talk about it and another thing to see the effects of a big storm like Sandy on the coast of Delaware,” said Kevin Donnelly, head of the New Castle Conservation District and the former state director of water resources.