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Displaced residents criticize local and state government's handling of Ida flooding

Sophia Schmidt
Delaware Public Media

Some Wilmingtonians displaced by flooding from Ida are unhappy with the City and state’s handling of the emergency. 

The scale of flooding from the Brandywine in Wilmington last Thursday was unprecedented—with the creek smashing its all-time flood record by nearly three feet. 

But the dangerous flash flooding that came from the remnants of Hurricane Ida was not a surprise. The National Weather Service projected flooding of the Brandywine as early as Aug. 31.  

Emergency services evacuated around 200 people in Wilmington, many by boat, and no fatalities were reported. But many lost cars and valuables—which might have been avoided with stronger warnings to residents. 

New Castle County says it sent a message about the projected floods to some residents outside the city last Wednesday advising them to get to higher ground if needed. But a City of Wilmington spokesman says the City did not send any alert to residents there. 

“The City dropped the ball on this one,” said Durrell Dollard, one of the residents displaced in Northeast Wilmington. “They should have been up on this.”

A.J. Schall, director of the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, paints appropriately warning residents before a flood as complicated. 

“I don’t think we would have known the impact it would have been to this community,” he said at a press briefing Thursday. “Once you evacuate them, then it’s, where do you put them all? It’s a slippery slope when it comes to—if we start there, don't need ‘em, then we have to manage all these resources to get them down here.”

Schall says his agency will do an “after-action” report to assess the response — but it may not be finished for months. 


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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