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Some cite old troubles for new flood problems

Although most residents blamed their flooding on Thursday’sdeluge, others blamed city or county officials for not heedingearlier calls to fix problems.

“It’s never done this before in 21 years,” said Avenue Aresident Teresa Walls, “and it wouldn’t have happened this time ifthe ditch had been cleaned.”

Avenue A residents have been fighting city aldermen for morethan a year to clean a city drainage ditch behind their homes. Theditch runs parallel to Highway 51 and stretches from HalbertHeights Road to Zetus Road.

“I wouldn’t have had a problem today if the city had done whatit was supposed to,” Walls said.

Flood waters receded before entering her house, she said, butrose past the foundation, tore down a fence and flooded two outdoorsheds.

Walls said she watched helplessly as flood waters rose and thesheds began to inch away.

Avenue A residents, who live on a flood plain, expressed theirconcerns in September that growth in the ditch would prevent itfrom channeling water quickly enough to prevent flooding in theirarea.

The city had cleaned the ditch for 21 years, but stoppedcleaning it two years ago, according to Avenue A residents. Now,the ditch is overgrown with bushes and shrubs, some standing morethan six feet tall.

At a city meeting in September, Mayor Bill Godbold admitted theditch was the city’s responsibility, and the city had performedmaintenance on it in the past.

Dewayne Bass of Smith Lake Road blames county supervisors forthe flooding at his home.

Bass blamed poor drainage for the flooding. A drainage ditchrunning next to his home narrows from 12-14 feet wide to about 4feet where it passes his home and the Smith Lake Bridge, hesaid.

Water overflows the banks where the ditch narrows and floodsinto his yard, he said.

“It can’t handle the amount of water coming through it, and thenwhen it narrows, it just floods the yard,” he said.

Bass said he moved into the home when he married his wife threeyears ago, but she has lived in the home for 14 years. In all thattime, supervisors have not heeded their warnings to widen the ditchat the bridge.

“I’ve even offered to give them six feet of land on this side ofthe ditch to widen it,” he said.

District 2 Supervisor Bobby J. Watts said work is being done toimprove conditions on Smith Lake Road, but they were not preparedfor the amount of water received Thursday.

“There’s nothing wrong with the new box culvert I put in on theroad,” he said. “We just lack quite a bit of work there yet. It’san unfinished project.”

Plans are to raise the road an additional 1.5 feet to decreasethe amount of flooding, he said.

The problem, Watts said, is that the creek upstream anddownstream of the road is narrow and can’t handle a great volume ofwater.

“Under normal circumstances it’d be Ok,” he said. “But we gotflood conditions yesterday and it just couldn’t handle it.”