As the muddy river reached for the traffic lights, residents of both towns were rescued from rooftops. Bound Brook borough became a boundless brook, as water from the Raritan River gushed onto Main Street in Somerset County’s oldest community, reaching heights of 10 feet and flooding more than 800 homes. In neighboring Manville, water reached up to 17 feet as homes came off foundations and stranded residents were plucked from their homes by helicopter and boat.
The chaotic event — Tropical Storm Floyd of September 1999 — mobilized both boroughs to intensify their flood control efforts. But nearly a decade later, it has become a tale of two flood-prone towns. Bound Brook, as part of the Green Brook Flood Control Project, has benefited from a line of flood walls and levees along the Green and Vosseller brooks. In ad dition, there have been channel modifications, deepened drains, widened banks, water control roller gates and the reconstruction of the old East Main Street bridge between Bound Brook and Middlesex borough to allow a greater volume of flood water.
Protective walls were built around an East Street apartment complex, and levees, flood walls and a pump station are being built along the southern side of Bound Brook, from the Talmage Avenue bridge to South Main Street. And new Congressman Leonard Lance made a point of stopping in Bound Brook on the first day of his district work week Tuesday to take a tour and tell Mayor Carey A. Pi lato he would advocate for the critical final $23 million stage of Bound Brook’s $113 million flood control project.
The same day, President Barack Obama signed into law a stimulus package. The project was included among Army Corps requests for federal stimulus money. “This,” Lance said, “is a classic example of a shovel-ready project.” Meanwhile, in neighboring Manville, the amount of federal funds allocated for fiscal year 2009 for the Stony Brook-Millstone River basin flood control project was zero dollars. The difference, said US Army Corps of Engineers project manager John O’Connor, is that Bound Brook started the clock on its flood control efforts after the big flood of 1973, when six people were killed, 1,000 people evacuated and President Richard Nixon declared it a disaster area….