Cleveland City Council hears flooding concerns

Cleveland City Council hears flooding concerns

September 27th, 2011 by Randall Higgins in News

The Cleveland Greenway is submerged in this recent photo. Contributed photo by Alicia Klepper.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Swift water and raw sewage poured through houses in many areas of Cleveland during last week's rains, the same thing that had happened a few days earlier, residents told the City Council on Monday.

Residents said the problem is not new.

Council members were shown photos of several neighborhoods from last Thursday and a video from one neighborhood where toilets and showers backed up.

"This has been going on for years," said Connie Redmond about her Pineview Drive neighborhood.

Several council members and Mayor Tom Rowland said they had water in their homes, too.

Councilman Avery Johnson said many of the people attending the meeting have lived in their homes 30 or 40 years and, like himself, never had seen flooding like this month's.

"We have got to get an overall plan," Councilman David May said. "If we can't afford [to fix] all of it, we've got to start hacking away at it."

The sewer system must be a priority, Councilman George Poe said.

"Water coming up in your yard, and sewerage coming up in your toilet are two different things," he said.

The city's federal flood maps are based on data from the 1960s, said Jonathan Jobe, director of the Development and Engineering Services Department. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will pay the first $100,000 for a new flood study, he said, but it still will cost the city about $300,000.

The city has budgeted $100,000 to get the study started.

"We don't need to wait on the flood maps, though. The problem areas are known," Rowland said.

Jobe said more detention ponds are needed.

Some residents not in the current official flood plains said they were told they could not buy flood insurance.

That is not the case, Jobe said, and anyone can buy flood insurance.

During the meeting, the council also approved $6 million in debt to purchase the Spring Branch property off APD 40 for a future industrial park. Cleveland Utilities has committed to $2 million of the cost. Bradley County will reimburse the city its $2 million share beginning in 2013 when tax money becomes available from new industries.

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