published Friday, July 13th, 2012

Debris blocking storm drains in Chattanooga after heavy rain


by Cliff Hightower
Chattanooga Public Works employees Cedric Thornton, left, and Tommy Pitts remove debris to clear a drain near West 47th street in St. Elmo early Thursday afternoon.
Chattanooga Public Works employees Cedric Thornton, left, and Tommy Pitts remove debris to clear a drain near West 47th street in St. Elmo early Thursday afternoon.
Photo by Dan Henry.
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With almost 2 inches of rain on the ground in the last 72 hours and leftover damage from heavy storms a week ago, Chattanooga's public works crews have focused on clearing storm drains.

Lee Norris, deputy public works administrator, said storms and heavy rain dropped leaves and branches from trees and shrubs. That debris now is washing toward storm drains.

"We're getting a lot of stopped-up storm drains," he said.

The National Weather Service reports that Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia are unlikely to get dry soon, with forecasts for rain until Saturday.

Jerry Stewart, the city's director of waste resources, said Moccasin Bend Wastewater Treatment Plant had higher-than-normal levels, but about right for the amount of rain that has fallen.

"We're managing it like we normally do," Stewart said.

There probably have been sewer overfills throughout the city, he said, but that's typical during heavy storm periods.

Jason Yakimowich, assistant city traffic engineer, said most of the road problems occurred Tuesday when a deluge dropped on the downtown area in a couple of hours.

"We were very fortunate," he said. "As quickly as it rose, it receded."

He said five downtown streets closed because of rain Tuesday, but none have closed since.

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