London area residents woke up Tuesday morning to flooded basements, flooded streets and streams that became rivers covering a major part of the city with backed up storm water.
In less than 24 hours from Monday to early Tuesday morning, more than six inches of rain soaked London — about four and half inches of the rain in just the single overnight storm. Two earlier storms Monday dropped about an inch and half of rain on the city.
“About six inches total. That’s what I’m hearing,” Mayor Patrick J. Closser said Tuesday afternoon.
By late afternoon, all of the flooded streets from early in the morning had reopened, he said.
When asked what areas of London were affected most by the flooding, Mayor Closser said, “What area wasn’t effected in some way somehow? There was flooding on State Route 38 and State Route 56.” He added that von Kanel Field was under water, as was the city’s water treatment plant area. “Anywhere there were creeks nearby was effected by this.”
Closser said that Tuesday afternoon they were looking at the FEMA map; the 100-year flood map. “We almost hit the 100-year flood map, with as much rain as we got,” he said.
Once it was clear that the overnight storm wasn’t just the usual thunderstorm, city sewer and street crews reported in early Tuesday, followed by the city’s police and fire departments. “It was an all hands on deck situation today for all four of those departments plus others,” he said.
Regarding the many homes where there was flooding in basements and what the city can do to help, Closser said, “We will help citizens to the fullest extent we can. We just don’t have the manpower or capability to come out and pump out everyone’s basements.”
Closser said there really isn’t damage to the sewer system. “The storm water sewers, they drain into the creeks. So when the creeks get so high that they put the outlet under water, that’s when things begin to back up. The storm sewer is doing it’s job, but when you get that kind of rain there is literally nowhere for it to go. When the creeks get over their banks, the water is just pushed out of London,” Closser said.
“London is a flat place. So it is tough to push it completely out — it is the layout of London and surrounding areas that pushes it to through the creeks as we try to push it out,” he added.
Regarding the job being done by the city sewer and street department crews, Closser said, “I can’t thank them enough for getting out there and doing what we can to help remedy this. But when there is an act of God like this, it is a difficult situation. We try to work together as a team and do what we can, but I want to also say that people who had basements and streets flooded, and they couldn’t get around, my thoughts are with you. Luckily no one was hurt — things can be replaced.”
During the overnight storm, Closser said he drove around checking on the creeks. “It looked like they were keeping up at first, but then the creeks just couldn’t keep up with all the rain.”
And the forecast? Luckily, the major storm that was predicted for 3-4 p.m. Tuesday didn’t happen.
Closser said most of the city streets and sewer crews were out Tuesday clearing the catch basins. “Everything tries to go where it is draining. All the leaves and sticks and everything. So we are trying to get some of those catch basins cleared in some of these high flooding areas so we can keep them open for when the next storm hits,” he pointed out.
He said the city asks people to bag their leaves and not put them out at the curb. “There is a reason for why we have an ordinance against blowing grass clippings into the street. It goes on the curbs, travels to the catch basins and it stops it up,” Closser said.
He said there are residents who see the catch basins clogged and they go out with a shovel and clean them up. “I really appreciate that. There are so many catch basins in the city, it would take us quite a while to get around to them all to clear them off.
“We just need no rain for a little bit for all this to push out,” Closser said.