City’s administration reviews flood causes and solutions

By Andrea Cordle
Southwest Editor

On March 20 numerous Grove City residents woke up to flooded yards, flooded basements and street closures.

Last month, the engineering firm EMH&T, gave a rain event summary to Grove City’s administration. This summary provided information regarding the rainfall on March 20 and potential steps that the city could take to mitigate areas prone to flooding. According to Cindi Fitzpatrick, the city’s service director, staff members are tracking and analyzing the data and plan to bring recommendations to Grove City Council on May 4.

“The systems were functioning. This was a flash flood event,” said Fitzpatrick.

According to the rain gauge at the Jackson Township Administration Building, more than one inch of rain fell on the evening of March 18. Between the evening of March 19 and the morning of March 20, more than three inches of rain fell. The total rain for the two days was 4.56 inches. This amount of rain left waterways at or over capacity, roadways flooded, ponding in yards and occurrences of water in basements. This amount of rain in the short period of time is considered a 10-year event. Per the rain summary, most storm sewers are designed to carry a two-year or five-year rain event.

The city’s service department received about 100 calls or emails from residents who reported water in their basements. In addition, there were 42 locations where roadway/surface flooding was reported to the service department and 45 roadway sections were closed due to high water.

“This was an intense, heavy rainfall event,” said Fitzpatrick. “The ground was already saturated.”

According to EMH&T, the older neighborhoods in the city were most impacted, where homes were built prior to the 1960s. This includes areas like Old Beulah (west of Front Street), the Lotz/Gunderman area, the Groves and the Woodlawn and Kingston area. The report states the stormwater system operation in these older neighborhoods are insufficient when compared to today’s building and stormwater management standards. Design requirements pre 1960 reportedly allow surface routing of stormwater along streets and overland at lower intensity rainfall events. If the sewers are above capacity, flooding on property and in the basement can occur. This means the older neighborhoods are more susceptible to flooding during heavy rainfall events.

The report also notes that some of the flooding was caused by debris blocking culverts impeding the stormwater flow.

“Grass clippings and leaves clogged the sewers causing the water to backup,” said Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage. “Homeowners have to do their part.”

Stage also said some of the property damage was made worse by motorists driving through flooded streets, causing waves. The mayor suggested the city start issuing citations for those caught driving down a flooded roadway.

Flooding in the aging neighborhoods is not unprecedented and the city has been investing over the past few decades through capital improvement projects to help the issue.

“We have taken this seriously over the last decade and invested millions in infrastructure improvements,” said Fitzpatrick.

Stage has directed the service department and EMH&T to look at the areas where property was flooded. This includes Grove City Road and Front Street, Lotz Drive, Broadway and the Town Center, as well as areas where water was reported in basements. The task is to see if the city could take any action to mitigate the problem.

Once the city’s administration evaluates the existing conditions and potential causes for water in the property, they may recommend both public and private improvements to minimize the impact of future rain events.

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