New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon recalled how the sturdy railroad trestles that stood for a century and a half in Glenville, Del. were washed away by Hurricane Isabel in 2003 during his comments about extreme weather at the "Climate Change" event held in Wilmington Wednesday afternoon.
Flooding was so bad that more than 200 homes were destroyed and people swam to the top of their ceilings in order to stay alive, Gordon told those attending the “I Will Delaware- Act on Climate Change” event at Timothy's on the Riverfront.
“No one lost their lives; we were lucky,” Gordon said. “We had to buy out about 250 homes. It’s now a greenfield. But what amazed me the most was the fact that Wilmington & Western Railroad had old trestles that were about 160 to 180 years old. And those trestles were just as strong on the day they were taken out as the day they were built. All six of them were taken out in one storm.
“I knew something was occurring,” he added. “When I sit with engineers now, they plan for a hundred-year storm. I’ve often said we’ve had ten hundred-year storms in the last ten years. Things are definitely changing in Delaware; there is a climate change. It affects Delaware and it affects housing.”
After Hurricane Isabel, the State of Delaware and New Castle County decided to buy out most of the community of Glenville, a community of more than 200 homes built near Newport in close proximity to Red Clay Creek. Gordon asked New Castle County Council to approve an ordinance that authorized the County to provide $15 million for its share of the Glenville Mitigation Project. That ordinance passed on Feb. 24, 2004.
Gordon returned to office for an unprecedented third term in November 2012.
Delaware Department of Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Colin O’Mara, emcee for the Climate Change event, described Gordon as “an incredibly pragmatic leader” when introducing Gordon.
“He’s trying to get Delaware back on good footing again with the economy while at the same time having a healthy environment and a greater level of public safety,” O’Mara said. “I’ve had a chance to work with this man a few times and it’s a pleasure to work with someone who cuts right to the chase, has strong opinions and the ability to follow through on them.”
Also speaking at Wednesday’s Climate Change event were Richard “Mouse” Smith, President, Delaware NAACP; former Newark Councilman Ezra Temko, a Delaware Organizer for Americans for Democratic Action Delaware; Natalia Olson, Small Business Administration Regional Administrator; Shawn M. Garvin, EPA Regional Administrator Mid-Atlantic Region and State Reps. Stephanie T. Bolden and James “JJ” Johnson.