Bay Avenue Residents Appeal to Southampton Town for Help Battling Floods

Bay Avenue in the area of Noyac where residents have complained about extreme flooding. Image via GoogleMaps

Barbara Hosking says frequent floodwaters invading her yard have started rotting her fence posts — and forget about her rose garden. She says she gave up on that a long time ago. And there are times, John Bradke says, when his house is inaccessible because of flooding.

They are residents of Bay Avenue in Noyac, where they and some of their neighbors are dealing with excess water during storms and high tides, and they have appealed to the Town of Southampton for help — without much of a response lately, they say.

According to Mr. Bradke and Ms. Hosking, the town intervened in 2017 when bay water overtook the road. The town opened a temporary cut to Noyac Bay, which allowed water to flow from the road back into the bay, but that became part of the problem, Mr. Bradke said.

“They put sand back, but they didn’t spend enough time putting it back correctly,” and now the bay overflows into the street regularly, he said Friday. “All they would have to do is put more sand and rocks back at the end of the street. Only where they’d dug — you don’t want standing water going into the bay.”

Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor confirmed the town had performed work at the end of Bay Avenue at the residents’ request, but said that’s not where the problem lies. Rather, he said, it’s with the tidal activity of the bays.

“We can control the roads to the best of our ability, but we can’t stop the bay,” Mr. Gregor said Monday. “It’s unfortunate that the sea level is rising and people are getting inconvenienced a little bit more. People need to do some stuff on their own properties to make them more resilient. If everyone’s going to turn to government for help for everything, they’re going to be disappointed.”

Ms. Hosking has worked with an attorney in the past to try to resolve the situation. She said she would like to see the town’s Community Preservation Fund purchase the property and return it to a natural state.

“That would probably help drain [the street],” she said. “I can tell you what the mosquitoes are like in the summer.”

It’s gotten so bad, residents say, that the Noyac Civic Council has gotten involved. Council president Elena Loreto says she has called on the Southampton Town Board for more funding in the highway budget to address flooding both at Bay Avenue and another street similarly affected, the end of Pine Neck Avenue.

The water on Bay Avenue “takes over a full street and that eventually drains down into the bay, which is crazy,” Ms. Loreto said Monday.

Another part of the problem, Mr. Gregor said, is a filled-in wetland area behind a house at the end of the street. The homeowner there has applied for a building permit to rebuild the house and build a swimming pool, he said, and the application is before the town’s Conservation Board.

Marty Shea, Southampton’s chief environmental analyst, explained it used to be a wetland where water could ebb and flow freely, and the homeowner has agreed to restore the wetlands, which Mr. Shea said will “allow for additional flood retention.”

“The road end is in a flood zone, so there aren’t a lot of options in terms of prevention of flooding,” Mr. Shea said. “If you try and berm the end of the road, much of the water is not only coming in from the bay, it’s also coming from elevated groundwater levels.”

Mr. Shea had some ideas for how the town could get involved. In conjunction with the Highway Department, he said, he could consider “cutting back the pavement to allow for additional, natural infiltration.”

“It’s somewhat difficult to do that because there’s a home on one side that has an access drive very close to the road end,” he said. “You could pump the water out of there all day and it will still come right in. It’s a vulnerable area where there’s no easy solution.”