Bound to Flood: Bound Brook’s Persistent Deluge

Many things have changed in Bound Brook over the years...except for all the flooding.

Getty Images.

THEN: Build a city near the Raritan River and you get scenes like this one from 1896, when residents of Bound Brook had to create a makeshift bridge to cross Main Street. That year’s flooding in the borough caused considerable damage and was accompanied by several major fires. It was but a taste of things to come. In 1999, Main Street was once again under water when the Rahway River crested at its highest known level—42.13 feet—during the onslaught of Hurricane Floyd. Again, a devastating fire erupted at a local business, but was contained thanks to the heroic efforts of the Bound Brook Fire Department and other companies.

Ed Murray/The Star-Ledger.

NOW: Although a flood-protection project has been under way for several years, the southern end of modern Bound Brook (pop. 10,402) was swamped in 2007 during a nor’easter and in 2011 by Hurricane Irene. The $130 million flood-protection project, which involves a series of levees, flood walls, closure gates and pump systems, is due for completion in the coming months. Hurricane Irene served as a test run for the massive undertaking. “While the results weren’t perfect,” says Bound Brook Mayor Carey Pilato, “we only had 1 to 3 feet. That’s a major improvement.”

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