Storm leaves Crimmins Road homes flooded with water, sewage

DARIEN — Brian Valentine, like his fellow Crimmins Road neighbors, prepared for Elsa’s arrival and the potential for flash flooding. But even these residents were not ready for the level - or type - of discharge flowing into their homes Friday.

Crimmins Road is situated on the west bank of Stony Brook, just south of Town Hall. And at least three homeowners at the bottom of this sloping road not only saw extreme flooding, but were overrun by billowing sewage that came up from the ground in numerous places.

“I don’t think it’s even hit me yet,” said Valentine, who saw the house he’s lived in for 10 years overwhelmed with 2 feet of wastewater inside. Every system and appliance was destroyed, along with furniture and every possession on the first floor and garage.

Further, the entire residence has been contaminated with sewage, inside and out.

“Our neighborhood has the suspicion or belief that ever since the high school was redone, and the highway was expanded, there’s been more damage to us,” Valentine said.

“There’s a lot more water coming down,” he said.

“We’ve never flooded and we’ve been here five years,” said Adi Prakash, who lives next door and saw extensive damage for the first time on Friday.

And while there was a “nasty” intrusion of 5 inches of sewage water into the house at the basement level, their backyard was literally swamped with a sea of wastewater that Prakash believes — owing to the range of colors and general appearance — contained chemicals and toxic contaminants.

“It’s beyond disgusting,” he said, wondering when or how he could ever let his kids return to playing there.

While he knows the storm was the precipitating event, Prakash believes the town has failed to address what he sees as a faulty or inadequate sewage system.

“This wasn’t caused by rain,” he said. “This wasn’t caused by rivers overflowing. This was caused by sewage overflowing.”

Prakash said he contacted the Environmental Protection Agency and that they would be testing the area.

“I know I bought in a flood zone, (but) the flood zone is supposed to be the runoff from the river,” he said, not sewage and waste water.

Since they experienced excessive flooding in 2018, Valentine and his wife, Lisa, have sought to get help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but are yet to receive any help in terms of grant money.

“You don’t ever actually get a real response as to why,” he said. “You’re just denied or approved.”

And after they had to vacate their house in 2018 for three months while repair work was being done following the first flood, the family is once again staying with relatives and expect that it’s going to be at least three months this time until they can move back in.

“This flood was much different than the last one because of the sewage problem,” Valentine said, though the water also reached extreme heights too—possibly up to eight feet in the backyard late Friday morning following high tide.

On Friday evening First Selectman Jayme Stevenson paid a visit to their house, along with Marc McEwan, emergency management director for the town.

“It was nice that they actually do show up,” he said, neighbors are still waiting to get answers on what the town intends to do to remedy the situation.

“The town of Darien has done a whole research study on the river and has done recommendations to open bridges and to buy properties to open up the river,” Valentine said, “and nothing has really been done.”

Stevenson said the town is working with FEMA on behalf of residents who have applied for FEMA support.

“We will help others who wish to do so,” Stevenson said, adding that she planned to meet with the town’s public works team Monday to discuss the sewage overflow issue.

Meanwhile, the residents are still reeling from an experience that, ironically, included a Port-o-potty from the Town Hall property literally flowing down along the river during the flood.

Also, for the Prakash family, their brand new 80-inch TV, which was still in its box in the garage, somehow getting picked up by the moving floodwaters and taken out to sea.

“It floated away,” he laughed. “We don’t know where it is.”