Photo credit: Baltimore Sun/Kim Hairston
Hurricane Nicole dumped plenty of rain on Maryland Wednesday night and Thursday morning, and the runoff blew out the safeguards on the construction site of a new school in Annapolis.
The result was a river of clay-colored water gushing over the neighborhood streets of Homewood and into the storm drains stenciled "Chesapeake Bay."
Officials from the city of Annapolis to the Board of Education, which is building the new Germantown Elementary School, said the contractor, Oak Construction of Baltimore County, was not in violation of any codes and the plans to handle storm runoff were adequate.
I would argue that the rain from Hurricane Nicole was not a "10-year storm," and not a rare event.
Nearly every fall, Maryland catches either the tail end of a hurricane - or one full bore. Sometimes more than one.
As gardeners, we kind of count on such storms to make up for all the rain we didn't get during the summer and to give trees, shrubs and plants the water they will need going into winter.
How can you NOT plan for such rainfall when you are planning a major construction project? It is practically a guarantee that Maryland will get one or more such storms.
Alison Prost, attorney for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, agrees.
She said that more inspectors are needed to make sure construction plans are up to snuff. And the standards in building codes need to be higher so that no one can say, as they did about the Germantown site, that the contractor's preparations were adequate - when clearly they were not.
For more reporting on this environmental nightmare, read my colleague Tim Wheeler on The Sun's blog, Bmore Green.