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Officials’ tour of city aims to correct drainage woes

When James Williams moved into a home at 127 Clara St. abouteight years ago, friends and neighbors told him about watercollecting behind the residence.

But high water problems started spreading to the front of thehome a few years ago after a fire hydrant was moved and a ditchfilled in during an Old Wesson Road widening project.

“I need a boat to get off my porch,” Williams told a waterdrainage consultant and Brookhaven officials Wednesday during theirtour of problem areas in the city.

Mayor Bob Massengill and Gerald Woods, technical coordinator forEngineering Associates, spent the day with aldermen touring problemareas in their respective wards.

Williams told the mayor, Woods and Ward One Alderman DorseyCameron that police have sometimes closed Old Wesson Road becauseof flooding during periods of heavy rain. He indicated waterproblems were worse in front of the home than in back.

“I didn’t really care about it (water) back there. After a fewminutes, it drains off,” said Williams, although adding that aneighbor’s home behind his is also threatened during high watertimes.

Following Wednesday’s tour, Woods is expected to develop someoptions to address the city’s water problems.

“We’ve found that there’s some areas with some serious floodingproblems.” Massengill said. “We’ve tried to identify those and comeback with a solution.”

The mayor said the plan is to seek federal funding assistance toimplement recommendations once they are developed. Overall, abouttwo dozen areas were viewed Wednesday.

“The number of problems does not necessarily signify theintensity of the problems,” said Massengill while discussing totalsin individual wards.

Woods agreed.

“We’ve kind of zeroed in on the immediate needs,” he said.

Woods and Massengill stressed they wanted to ensure that asolution to flooding in one area did not cause problemselsewhere.

Concerns discussed Wednesday ranged from water getting intohomes to water approaching homes. Regardless of the threat level,officials said the rising water is a concern for homeowners.

In Ward One, the Rev. Charles Caston and members of BeulahChapel discussed problems with water overflowing a ditch along therailroad and flooding a parking area near the Rogers Circle votingprecinct on Brignall Road.

“It gets up pretty high,” Caston said. “That’s why we have itbuilt up like that so they can get in.”

In Ward Four, Massengill, Woods and Alderwoman Shirley Estesviewed several problem areas. While instances of water enteringhomes were less compared to some other parts of the city, Estessaid Ward Four does have places where water is getting intobasements, impacting foundations and washing away landscapes.

“The big difference is that we have some areas that are veryclose to water getting into people’s homes,” said Estes, addingthat there are also instances of water blocking some streets in theward.

Massengill said Woods has visited the city earlier to getmeasurements on sizes of drains. He said the work is part of acomparison between what pipe sizes are and what they ought tobe.

“The city has changed in the last number of years,” Massengillsaid.

As a result, Massengill indicated that drainage ditches andpipes may be insufficient for the water flow they need tohandle.

Woods said the city is changing from rural to becoming moreurban. He said the increased paving and other developments impactwater flow.

“It changes the velocity of the flow as well as the amount ofwater flowing in a certain area,” Woods said.

Following Wednesday’s tour, Woods said he would review the dataand begin to develop some recommendations. He and Massengill canthen discuss how to proceed.