Elm Street resident asks city council about flooding issues

(Posted May 26, 2020)

By Andrew Garrett, Staff Writer

London’s Elm Street residents may have to pay out of pocket for drain repairs after their houses experienced flooding issues.

London city council members returned to council chambers at the city hall building May 21 but with new capacity guidelines stating only 10 people could be in the room at one time. This opened the room to nine city officials and a public speaker.

Long-time London resident, Mike Carter, was the only member of the public present, telling council members that he and several neighbors had recently experienced severe flooding in the basements of their homes on Elm Street. He brought the issue to council hoping the city could offer some answers, he said.

“Right now, I have water in my basement 26 inches deep,” Carter said. “And it takes two days to drain out.”

He said the city told him at a meeting in 2019 that some repairs would be done to the city sewer system in the spring of 2020 but has yet to see any work done.

Carter added that he has lived at the residence for 47 years and has experienced flooding before. More recently, it has gotten worse, he said, and many neighbors on the block have the same problems.

“It just started like four or five years ago. That’s when we really started having problems,” he said. “It just generally has gotten a little bit worse each year.”

He added that when there is heavy rain, he sees “black water” backup in his house indicating that there is sewage backup. When he checked into repair costs, the total was nearly $7,000.

“I just wanted to see if there is something the city can do,” he said.

Council member Anthony Smith said that, unfortunately for residents, the issue causing the backup isn’t the city’s responsibility. He said he found this out firsthand after experiencing a similar issue in his own home.

“I can give you the answer because I just did exactly what you did. And it’s not a good one but it is what it is. I have the exact same problem,” Smith said.

He explained that two years ago, his house flooded and, when he had the drainage system looked at, concrete was found in the drain.

He said he brought the issue to the city and was told “the city is not responsible for it.”

Smith offered the solution of installing a backflush valve which he said fixed the issue at his house, but Carter said his home has clay tile and that the part wouldn’t work with the tile.

Although council members said there wasn’t much they could do, they encouraged Carter to attend city committee meetings, including the next Board of Public Utilities meeting, which was set for May 28.

In old business, council reviewed amendments for two pieces of legislation. The first would require anyone holding a public event on public property to get a permit. The language in the legislation would be changed to refer to any “public events” rather than just fairs, festivals and carnivals, as the language currently states.

The other amendment would require all contractors, subcontractors and general contractors to register with the city before performing work.

Both pieces of legislation will have a final reading at the next regular council meeting.

In new business, council passed:

  • a resolution appropriating $24,510.60 to make a bond payment to the county for a skid steer and front loader;
  • a resolution allowing the safety service director to apply for a Community Development Block Grant for up to $51,511 for repairs to the city’s sewer infrastructure to help alleviate flooding on city streets and homes;
  • a resolution allowing the safety service director to apply for and accept a Trench Safety grant through the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation for up to $9,362.40; the city will be responsible for matching funds of 20 percent; and
  • a resolution allowing the safety service director to apply for and accept a grant through the Small City Program for up to $1 million to be used on any road, safety or signal project on the Federal Aid system.

The next regular London city council meeting is June 4 at 6:30 p.m.

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