Heavy rains overwhelm storm drains and flood many streets

Tuesday, Aug 7, 2012 11:34 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Aug 8, 2012 12:45 AM
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Heavy rainfall led to standing water on Walton Way, and flooded areas stalled cars in other parts of the city.   SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Heavy rainfall led to standing water on Walton Way, and flooded areas stalled cars in other parts of the city.

A line of thunderstorms dumped buckets of rain on Augusta’s streets Tuesday evening, flooding them and stranding motorists all over the city’s low-lying areas – even forcing the evacuation of a personal care home in Harrisburg.

The volume of rainwater quickly overwhelmed the city’s storm drains. The National Weather Service reported that more than 1½ inches fell at Daniel Field between 7 and 9 p.m.

As soon as the rain started coming down hard, Brenda Nations said she knew she had to act.

“I started trying to move people right away,” said Nations, whose personal care home sits at a low point on Division Street.

Within minutes, however, the street in front of her home had turned into a pond and water started to cover her yard. A manhole cover in the cemetery across from her home popped open from the force of the flood, she said.

“It was shooting up like a fountain,” Nations said.

With water threatening to cover her porch, she called the Augusta Fire Department and soon, firefighters were helping move the residents to drier ground.

“Three people had to be escorted and one was carried in a chair,” she said.

Nations said her part of Di­vision Street floods regularly because of poor drainage.
“The storm drains and manholes are full of dirt and trash,” she said. “The city never cleans them out. There are plants growing out of them.”

Commissioner Matt Ait­ken, who assisted with the evacuation, said he talked with city engineering Tuesday night.

“I just found out about this,” he said of the drainage problem. “I’ll be discussing it with engineering to see what we can do.”

Division Street wasn’t the only area where storm drains failed. Parts of Laney-Walker Boule­vard and surrounding streets were inundated enough to stop traffic, and manhole covers in numerous low areas became dislodged. A torrent of water ran down from the Hill area on Walton Way, covering an entire lane, and in one section of R.A. Dent Boulevard, at least eight vehicles were stalled in knee-deep water while their stricken occupants talked on cellphones and peered out into the downpour.

Meanwhile, emergency officials were scrambling to cover a deluge of calls for assistance.

Sheriff’s Lt. J.R. Compton said he “wouldn’t even venture to guess” the number of calls received between 7 and 10 p.m. “It has been too much to keep up with.”

He said several streets were closed while authorities waited for water to recede, including the intersection of Peach Orchard Road and Bobby Jones Expressway. “That is a very low area and the water always pools under that overpass,” he said.

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Just My Opinion
Just My Opinion 08/08/12 - 04:49 am
The bad thing about drainage

The bad thing about drainage problems is that people usually don't think about them until it's too late! Speaking from experience here..we had a small creek behind our yard, and added with runoff from a nearby parking lot, the cascading water would drain into one storm water pipe only to eventually hit a SMALLER storm water pipe! Well, when that happens, water backs-backs-backs-backs up! When it's not raining, the engineers don't see the reasons for the big hurry to fix it, so they take their time. That's why I video-taped it and showed it to everyone. That's what this lady at the personal care home should do...and show it to the television stations.

soapy_725 08/08/12 - 09:24 am
and their commissioner was not aware

of the problem. he would have no issues with maintenance. and just in case we don't remember, when it floods, the sewerage treatment plant is overwhelmed with a mixture of raw sewerage and storm drain water which must be sent to the river. look out downstream. Augusta is dumping on you.

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