Fayetteville not equipped to handle heaviest rains

August 30, 2012 1:52:50 PM PDT
For the second time this month, a Fayetteville woman's backyard has turned into a pond after heavy rain hit the area.

It's not only in this isolated location. Flash flooding has recently become a problem in several parts of the city.

Fayetteville's storm drainage system is designed to take care of flooding rain that a city may see once every 25 years. The area has recently seen flooding that might happen once every 100 years, and it's happened twice this month alone.

Teresa Ciszek has lived in the same home on Edgewater Drive for 27 years. Wednesday's downpour flooded her backyard and Mirror Lake spilled its banks for the second time this month. The city did not open the flood gates to lower the lake.

"They said that they can't always anticipate and they can only lower lake an inch an hour. And I don't know, they working on the storm drains up the street with construction. I don't know if they just don't have capacity to handle it."

When the storm drainage system doesn't have the capacity to drain faster than the rain comes down, streets turn into streams.

"When you can't see the street, you don't know if the pipe has failed or especially if you're at a stream crossing, the pipe could have failed and you could drive in and drown," county engineer Bill Hammond said.

Hammond said the city's drainage system is not designed to handle as much rain as it has received in such a short period of time.

"We design for 25 to 50 year storms. But when you have four inches within an hour, any system that you design isn't going to be able to handle it. You can design it, but the cost of putting that in is astronomical," Hammond said.

Residents can help the issue some, Hammond said, by making sure sewer grates are not blocked by pine straw and debris.

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