City tackles drainage problems

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Brookhaven officials have embarked on what they hope is thefirst step toward solving drainage and flooding problems around thecity.

Mayor Bob Massengill and Aldermen Dorsey Cameron, Terry Batesand Mrs. Jerry L. Wilson recently toured their respective wardswith engineer Gerald Woods of Engineering Associates to reviewproblem flooding areas and to develop a preliminary plan to addressthose concerns. Bates said he was hopeful that officials’ effortswould provide some relief.

“We’ve been talking about this for a long time, but we’ve got tostart somewhere,” Bates said.

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Massengill, who showed the engineer some trouble areas in WardFour during the recent tour, said a preliminary report is expectedwithin the next couple of weeks. He said he wanted to have Woodsreturn to look at areas in Wards Five and Six before the report isprepared.

Regarding the causes of the problems, Bates said some ditcheshad become grown up over time. He also mentioned heavy rains thecity has experienced in recent years and development that has sentwater runoff toward the ditches.

“The more we build, the more we cover the ground,” Bates said.”We want that, but we’re going to have to deal with theditches.”

Massengill said the cutting and cleaning of ditches with aninmate work program is providing some help. Some ditches will needmore extensive action, but the engineer’s assistance is needed tohelp determine what measures to take.

“Obviously, we’ve got to prioritize and begin working on theproblems,” Massengill said.

The mayor said funding would be a key factor in pursuing thedrainage correction plans.

“Money, or lack thereof, will determine what you can do,”Massengill said.

Bates said the city may seek grant assistance to do some of theditch work.

At this point, Massengill said he had no idea on the cost forcorrective measures. While he and Bates mentioned water retainingponds as one possibility, Massengill said it would be premature tocomment on what other corrective measures could be taken.

As far as flooding, Massengill alluded to East Minnesota Street,Center Street and St. George St. as areas of concern. The streetsrun parallel to each other and are impacted by the same large ditchthat goes through Ward Three.

“Those three areas are definitely problem areas,” Massengillsaid.

While his home has been spared because it rests on pillars, St.George St. resident Charlie Sanders has watched neighbors’ homesflood during heavy rains. He said police have had to come rescuesome of his neighbors, whose homes are in low-lying area near theditch.

Sanders said the ditch fills with water any time it rains one ortwo inches in less than an hour.

“When it rains real bad, it is a problem,” Sanders said.

In addition to the large ditch that intersects the street, thereis another ditch that runs along the north side of the road.

“All that water comes from the west and the north,” Sanderssaid. “This ditch here is completely covered with water.”

Pointing out trash on the south side of the street, Sanders saidit gets there after the ditch fills up and water flows over theroad.

“It’s got to go somewhere,” Sanders said about the waterflow.

Sanders said motorists and residents, including the Rev. andMrs. Jerry L. Wilson, who live farther east on the one-way street,have trouble getting to their homes when the road overflows.

“This is about as far as you’re going to be able to come,” saidSanders while standing in the yard of his home at 503 St. GeorgeSt.

In addition to Ward Three, Massengill mentioned an area just offBrignall Road. There is a problem with water from under therailroad track there, he said.

“There are other problem areas around town we’re working on,”Massengill said.

City officials cautioned that they wanted to avoid a “dominoeffect” when addressing drainage issues. Massengill cited anexample of fixing a problem in one place but worsening a problemelsewhere.

“You don’t want to solve one problem and create a biggerproblem,” Massengill said. “That’s a concern.”