By Jeff Gallatin
Mayor Kevin Kennedy and members of his administration dealt with a steady stream of questions Monday night from Sandy Ridge residents frustrated with the most recent flooding in their homes.
Monday’s session between the city officials and the residents was the first of three meetings set by the city, with the second set for tomorrow at 7 p.m. in the Community Cabin in North Olmsted Park. The third is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday in the Bretton Ridge subdivision, since that area, like Sandy Ridge, was also hit hard by the most recent flooding last week.
In opening the outdoors meeting with about 200 residents, Kennedy said people have to remember the severity of the rains when considering the major flooding issues that have occurred this year.
“We have had three of the top 15 rain events of the last 100 years this year,” Kennedy said.
He said when the rainstorms hit hard and fast, the city’s sewer systems get overwhelmed.
“When you get four inches of rain in a little more than an hour, there’s not much we can do at this point,” he said.
Kennedy and his team reminded residents of the more than $40 million in renovations and upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant which the city is currently doing. The work is part of the city’s response to federal Environmental Protection Agency mandates.
Much of the work is expected to start next year.
“That will help deal with the lot of the issues we are experiencing right now,” Kennedy said. “I realize that it doesn’t solve a lot of the problems you’re dealing with right now and that you’re frustrated because of that.”
Administration officials said this year’s events have prompted them to add an additional part to the work with upgrades to the Chapel Hill area which should help deal with flooding issues.
During the session residents peppered the city officials with various questions and statements about the problems experienced during the flooding. Some wanted them to look at nearby drainage areas which they believe cause some of the problems they are encountering in the Sandy Ridge area. Others wanted them to look at recently done work by the school system or other measures designed to try and deal with drainage issues. When the city officials noted that many of the older homes have storm and sanitary sewer lines which cross each other and that residents need to help deal with that, some residents responded that the city should have more documentation on what sewer lines are located near homes and where they are.
Ward 1 Councilman Lou Brossard, whose ward contains Sandy Ridge, said he has received many phone calls and e-mails about the problems.
“Too many to count,’ he said. “I’m like a lot of people and wanted to hear this because this is the first I’ve heard this much from the administration because I’ve been busy responding to the residents and I’ve been flooded three times too.”
Residents said they are weary of the flooding issues.
“We’ve been dealing with flooding issues since 1989,” Fairfax Lane resident Karen Corrigan said. “We had three of them in 1994 and there have been many more times since then as well. We’ve written to the city about it several times and talked about it several times.”
Corrigan displayed a thick folder which contained correspondence going back to then Mayor Ed Boyle in 1989 and also contained pictures of flooding and subsequent damage in the family home’s basement.
Another resident heard the various explanations and discussion about North Olmsted and other Westshore communities all having to deal with various flooding issues.
“I really don’t care about what’s going on in the other areas,’ he said. “I just care about what’s going on in my basement and I want to know when it’s going to stop.”