For Upper Marlboro business owner Mike Kress, dealing with flooding in his auto repair shop has become the norm, as he said the town has had to deal with it often after major storms, including Hurricane Sandy this week.
Many areas in the incorporated portion of Upper Marlboro, and some areas just outside town limits, such as Kress’ business, Marlboro Tire and Automotive, have been frequent victims of flooding. For years, town officials have been urging Prince George’s County leaders to address the issue and are waiting for a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study into the problem.
Kress, whose business took on more than four feet of water after Tropical Storm Lee in September 2011, said preparing his store for flooding has become so frequent that preparing for Hurricane Sandy, which brought about 7 inches of rain, was easy.
“We’re usually open Saturday morning, but we stayed closed and stripped all of the equipment out of the building,” Kress said. “And we put things that wouldn’t be as affected by water on the car lifts.”
Prince George’s County Councilman Mel Franklin (D-Dist. 9) of Upper Marlboro, whose district includes the town, said that while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the process of studying the flooding problem, upgrades or possible solutions are still likely years away. Franklin said although a solution will take time, the county, particularly its police and fire/EMS departments, is taking steps to address the needs of those in the area in the immediate aftermath of the storm.
“I know the county just has a better sense and is more prepared for the possibility of flooding in Upper Marlboro,” Franklin said. “The county response will be much faster just because we know more than we did before the last flood.”
Barry Morton, president of the Marlboro Towne Community Association, a development that borders the School House Pond in Upper Marlboro, said that although last year’s flooding only seeped into residents’ backyards, he keeps close tabs on the water level, both in the pond and the streets in his development.
“A big problem is our storm drains always back up,” Morton said. “So you get flooding near the storm drains, and people’s cars flood.”
Although residents said they did more preparation for Hurricane Sandy than previous storms, one thing some haven’t employed is flood insurance. Kress said that despite the potential benefits, getting flood insurance is just too expensive.
“We did look into it, but it’s still quite expensive,” Kress said. “To get flood insurance [for our business], we would have to get structural and content insurance on top of it. It just makes more sense to get a truck and move all the equipment.”
Morton said the same is true for residents looking for flood insurance. Although he said one or two homeowners in his development now have flood insurance, most people have deemed it too costly.
“It’s a little ridiculous,” he said. “Last time I checked, it costs three times as much as homeowner’s insurance. And since we’re not technically in the flood plain, none of the banks require it.”