Hurricane flood risk areas in Greater Morristown

These trucks, parked in a Center Street parking lot near the Bethel A.M.E. Church, were overwhelmed by Tropical Storm Irene and the Whippany River. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
These trucks, parked in a Center Street parking lot near the Bethel A.M.E. Church, were overwhelmed by Tropical Storm Irene and the Whippany River in 2011. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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By Beth Kujan

We in Greater Morristown are fortunate. Unlike the Houston archipelago, deluged by Hurricane Harvey, or Florida, at risk from Hurricane Irma, we have a varied topology.

Only certain areas are highly susceptible to flooding, and they are sparsely populated. The map below is from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):

FEMA flod map morristown morris township

Flood map legend Morristown Morris Township

The purple area (very high flood risk) is around the airport and wetlands area on either side of Columbia Turnpike (510).

The Whippany River as it runs through Morristown/Township is responsible for the red (high flood risk) areas.  The river flooded parts of Morristown’s Second Ward during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

Speedwell Lake and Burnham Pond are the two appendages of the Town boundary into the Township.

The Whippany became a might river after Tropical Storm Irene. This was the scene immediately below the Speedwell Lake dam on Aug. 29, 2011. Image by Pete Tamburro.
The Whippany became a might river after Tropical Storm Irene. This was the scene immediately below the Speedwell Lake dam on Aug. 29, 2011. Image by Pete Tamburro.

The Whippany River feeding into Speedwell Lake menaces some properties, but past Inamere Road the area is Lewis Morris parkland. Similarly, Burnham Pond is contiguous with Fosterfields and from there, Lewis Morris Park.

Presumably, the at-risk facilities are at the water treatment plant next to Loantaka Brook Reservation.

Sen. Robert Menendez was a co-sponsor of a 2014 law, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which limits the amount of money by which FEMA can increase flood insurance rates each year. That law expires on Sept. 30, 2017.

More information on the NFIP in NJ is here. And here is FEMA’s Flood map article.

FEMA disclaimer: Flood Risk Products have purposes that are different from regulatory flood hazard products (i.e., FIRM, FIS Report, and FIRM Database). Regulatory flood hazard products are mandated by law and used by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for rating flood insurance policies and enforcing the federal mandatory insurance purchase requirements. Flood Risk Products are supplementary resources for communicating flood risk to communities and may not entirely align with the regulatory flood maps. The information in these products reflect what was produced by the FEMA Risk MAP study in that area. Depending on the requirements of the study, the Flood Risk Products available for your community may consist of a Flood Risk Map, Flood Risk Report or Flood Risk Database.

Beth Kujan has been a Morris Township resident for more than 20 years.

The Whippany River rushes over Martin Luther King Avenue in Morristown after Tropical Storm Irene. Photo by Berit Ollestad.
Greater Morristown is not immune to storm flooding: The Whippany River rushes over Martin Luther King Avenue in Morristown after Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. Photo by Berit Ollestad.
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1 COMMENT

  1. Morristown flooding was lessened only after local residents caused Town officials to focus on removing structures in the flood zone, especially a warehouse and a junkyard, that in addition to increasing the amount of floodwaters, also polluted the river in that area.
    Fortunately, later attempts to develop that area again were defeated by area citizens raising concerns about the flooding problems. Town officials often ignore or forget the past. It’s up to our local residents to keep them informed.

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