I-Team investigates flood problems for Raleigh homeowner

A Raleigh man is taking on City Hall after a quiet creek near his home becomes a raging river.
May 8, 2014 1:24:42 PM PDT
A Raleigh man is taking on City Hall after a quiet creek near his home becomes a raging river. The water rushes in so fast, and floods so often, that it's carving a new path through his property.

The creek, which meanders through the middle, is one of the reasons that Joe Byrd moved there more than 20 years ago. Now, he says it's threatening his home.

"You get several really good hard thunderstorms in here, the water will be up and probably run into my garage right up to the kitchen steps," said Byrd.

The once shallow creek bed has more than doubled in size. It's even exposed Byrd's sewer line. It gets wider every year, and now is just feet from his front door.

Earlier this spring, heavy rain sent gushing water spilling onto Byrd's driveway. When Hurricane Fran blew through, the rising water wiped out Byrd's heating and air conditioning unit.

"It became a river all the way from under my house to the street," said Byrd.

Neighbors blame the flooding and erosion on growth in north Raleigh. Over the years, new shopping centers and townhome developments to the east of North Haven have led to more runoff. That, at times, turns the calm creek into a rushing river.

"They, by allowing the development up there on the creek, reducing the amount of absorption area and buffer, basically created the danger," said Byrd.

However, the city says all the development meets stormwater guidelines, and it has a drainage assistance program that helps pay for needed repairs.

Byrd applied for that in 2010, but was denied. The city admitted there was a problem, but said Byrd's driveway, including a small bridge over the creek, wasn't stable enough for them to do anything.

"I felt like the bridge was a part of the problem," said Byrd. "The bridge was perfectly stable until the water levels came up so high."

So Byrd paid a contractor nearly $7,000 to add concrete supports under the bridge. He hoped that would sway the city to help.  

The city came back and said Byrd's contractor didn't get the proper permits, and said the supports may actually hinder any future efforts to stabilize the creek banks.

Byrd says he felt like he just couldn't win.

"At the rate it's going, this property is basically unsellable now," said Byrd.

However, he's not one to quit. Even if he has to keep paying out-of- pocket for a problem he says is not his doing.

"At some point, it doesn't matter what the city does because I have to save my house," Byrd said.

Byrd's case went before the Stormwater Committee last week, but his petition was put on hold for another six months.

The city says it can't move forward with creek repairs until his driveway is fixed with the proper permits.

Once the city decides his bridge is stable enough, and even if his application is approved in the future, Byrd would still have to pay another $5,000 of the more than $26,000 cost to restore the creek.

Click here for a link to the City of Raleigh's Drainage Assistance Program.


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