Cleveland, Tenn., seeks study of city's chronic flood problems

Cleveland, Tenn., seeks study of city's chronic flood problems

November 15th, 2011 by Randall Higgins in News

Flooding in Cleveland, Tennessee.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The City Council moved Monday to address the city's chronic flood problems.

The city is sending a letter of intent to undertake a flood control study to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Officials will take $200,000 from the city's reserve fund to help pay for it.

The damage from flooding on Labor Day and a few days later was the dominate discussion during the council's all-day fall planning session.

"I know this is a huge no-no," Councilman Bill Estes said as he announced he would seek approval for setting aside the $200,000, "but Labor Day crossed the boundary. I think this is almost an emergency situation."

Other council members agreed, as did flood victims who attended the regular afternoon council sessions.

"It is an emergency," Sycamore Drive resident Veva Rose said.

During the flooding, Cleveland High School had water in the science wing. At Cleveland Middle School and George R. Stuart Elementary School, water flowed into the auditoriums and the gyms, while Arnold Memorial Elementary School had water in the cafeteria.

Rose and others have told the city for weeks that floods are getting deeper and more dangerous. Some said they have sewer backups through commodes and showers, and all spoke of paying for repairs.

The Corps of Engineers has a flood control study program in which the corps pays the first $100,000 and then matches 50/50 the remaining cost. The city's share is $300,000.

The city already had set aside $100,000 and, because of budget constraints, originally planned to set aside another $100,000 in each of the next two years.

That was before the Labor Day flooding.

The city has compiled its own data, said Jonathan Jobe, director of development and engineering services for the city. His maps show creeks in the city collect water from hundreds of square miles beyond the city limits.

All the drainage areas are interrelated, Jobe said, and most proposed solutions simply would pass the water from current flooding victims to other homeowners.

"That's my problem," Jobe said during the work session. "If I help somebody, I hurt somebody else."

Contact staff writer Randall Higgins at rhiggins@timesfreepress.com or 423-314-1029.