After a fair week characterized by torrential rains, the City of London is offering relief to those greatly affect by any flooding caused by the turbulent weather.
During Thursday’s city council meeting, Mayor Pat Closser explained how the flooding last week got to such a level.
“Last week the city of London experienced abnormal weather, as did most of the state,” said Closser. “The estimated rainfall in about 72 hours was 12 inches, with approximately 3.5 inches that fell in one hour on Thursday. With this amount of rain, the creeks, which are fed by our storm sewer, in our area were overwhelmed.”
Just before council met, the London Board of Public Utilities had a meeting. Closser said that in light of the damage caused by the floods, they would be waiving any additional pick up fees on sanitation bills for any trash picked up between July 12 and July 21.
“The city understands the hardships that so many of our citizens have faced due to the recent flooding,” said Closser. “Many have had their basements and parts of their homes flooded, cars damaged with all the flooded streets and all the flooding going on. The financial impact of losing personal property can seem overwhelming. We know that those impacted have been working hard to clean and repair their properties.”
Additionally, fees will be waived for anyone bringing waste to the transfer station during the same timeframe. In short, bills covering the period between July 12 and July 21 should only have the base rate for pick up, no extra charges for surplus waste. He mentioned the situation will be similar to what the BPU does during the Christmas holiday season.
Closser also noted that the city BPU will be working hard to ensure no charges for extra waste are filed but should an error occur, he encouraged people to reach out to the office on 100 S. Main St. and the BPU will correct it.
In addition to these efforts, the city will also be doing extra spraying for mosquitoes, as the semi-parasitic insects breed in standing water. Areas to be sprayed include the bike trail, Midway Street, Center Street, High Street, Chrisman Avenue, Walnut Street and Jackson Street.
“The city of London and my administration is continuously working and researching ways to make improvements,” he said.
Council member Rex Castle said he wished they could help more by offering trash bags when people were still cleaning out their now ruined basements, which he acknowledged would be a big hit on many.
“I’d like to thank BPU for taking some of the burden off of citizens that had some devastation with all the torrential rains,” he said. “It’s pretty devastating whenever you have flood waters come in like that, especially if you utilize that as a working part of your home, which a lot of people have finished basements.”
Castle encouraged people who were able to help flood proof their own homes in addition to future efforts made by the village, despite the freak rains being beyond what most systems could handle.
“There are things people can do, it does cost money. There are valves which you can put in sewers line which will stop that from backing into your home. You’d probably still have some water but it would not be as much. [They’re called] back flow diverter valves,” he said. “Years ago the city went through and cleaned the stream through town and think we should look into that now. It’s been 10 to 15 years since we did that. I know there’s a lot of vegetation that’s restricting that … anything that could help would be appreciated.”
Council member Dick Minner said that the city has faced worse in the past, but it was no excuse not to do something.
“We’ve had a lot more water than we did this last week,” he said “I think we should help correct the situation. It won’t be easy and it won’t be cheap but we should do it.”
One resident Charles Reese, who lives on Jacqueline Drive, one of the streets majorly impacted, demanded that the city do more to prevent a future flood and also felt that they could have done better warning people at the time.
“I’d like to see something done. There were four cars that were lost because of the sudden flood of water,” said Reece. “I followed it up right to the fairgrounds, I saw a guy shoveling his garage with a snow shovel, trying to keep the water out, you know [his effort] was impossible. Something has to be done.”
“We weren’t warned, there were police officers, there were firefighters on the street, we weren’t warned. During that first storm, we got no warning,” he added. “Yet there were police officers and firefighters on that street. Part of their job is saving property. They didn’t save anything. Not on our end.”
During his presentation Closser mentioned he understood the hardships.
“This past week was a trying time for our city government and its citizens. I would like to thank our citizens for their cooperation and understanding as well as our employees for their hard work and long hours,” he said.
Maximilian Kwiatkowski can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617 or on Twitter @MSFKwiat.