UNION — Last Thursday the City of Union was subjected to a localized heavy rainfall that flooded city streets and yards.
Doug Carmichael of Phillipsburg-Union Road sustained damage to his property, specifically to a detached garage behind his home, which has never experienced flood damage in the 25 years since it was built. He discussed the matter at Monday night’s city council meeting.
“I have never had water inside that garage,” Carmichael said. “I had six inches about five weeks ago because the storm drain up the road was clogged with corn stalks and such. It was supposed to remedy the problem when it got cleaned out, but this time when it rained it was even worse. I had about eight inches of water in there and it damaged drywall and insulation, chain saws and a lot of stuff got ruined. I have never had this issue, even when I-70 flooded a few years ago. It just seems like the sewer system can’t handle what we are putting into it now. I know it rained a lot, but it has rained a lot in the past 30 years and I’ve never had water in the garage, much less eight inches.”
Mayor Michael O’Callaghan asked if Carmichael had reported the flooding issue to the city prior to coming to the council meeting. Carmichael said his wife notified the city when it occurred five weeks ago and that is when the drain up the street was found to be clogged with corn stalks and all the storm water flowed through residents’ yards.
“This time it wasn’t the case. That drain is clear and it still rolled down through my yard,” Carmichael said.
Carmichael said he would like the city to run a camera through the storm drain in his yard out to the street to see if there is any obstruction.
City Manager John Applegate said the city received a lot of calls after the rain.
“We had a rain event on Thursday that we have never had before in this community. It is what I call a localized event,” Applegate said. “I can tell you we’ve never had water shoot across there at Hardin Creek where the headwall is, across Phillipsburg-Union Road twelve inches deep or deeper.”
The storm sewer system which goes by Applegate’s house and ends up down at Carmichael’s and goes across 48 couldn’t handle all the rain and flooded nearby streets. He noted that water was pouring across Sweet Potato Ridge Road because of all the water coming out a woods and from parts of Clayton and a small portion of Englewood.
“It all flows and ends up over by his house and my house,” Applegate said. “My wife called me while I was in a meeting in Dayton and said, ‘Can I abandon ship?’ I said, what do you mean? She said, ‘Well, we have lake front property.’ The last three rains the water ran behind our out buildings. This time it was behind the buildings, through my back barn and in front of it. The whole rear yard was nothing but six to seven inches of water running through the fence and flooding Maple Garden and Parkgrove roads as it headed to the Stillwater River. We got a lot of phone calls and we looked at everything.”
Applegate had his road department personnel walk from the falls through a five foot pipe all the way up and it was spotless. They looked up every catch basin and up every line.
“We are going to put a TV camera in one line from Lutz Drive back because the old system originally all ran over to Lutz Drive and then across 48,” Applegate said.
When the bridge on Phillipsburg-Union washed out years ago the city put ina new culvert with a six inch pipe and tied the catch basins in that were behind Keller and a section of Lutz into the new system so that there are now two lines going out of the catch basins.
Applegate said the city received 6.34 inches of rain Thursday.
“We got all the water and whenever a system backs up there is nowhere for it to go, so it floods the streets and just starts seeking its own route to get to the Stillwater,” he said. “The rain event we had, there is nothing that can handle that. I’ve got a yard full of water; he has a garage full of water. I don’t know what to tell you. Most storm sewer systems are designed for 25-year storm events. I know when we put the culvert in along Phillipsburg-Union it was sized for a bigger event because of the area it takes in and was sized for a 50 or 60-year event and I would say we probably had a 100-year event in a very short duration of time.”
Applegate said he sympathized with what Carmichael experienced but said there was no answer. He said even if the city could afford to put in a bigger pipe, depending on what Mother Nature does flooding would still occur.
“Usually this time of year we get thunderstorms of very short duration that gives us a nice rain and it quits,” Applegate added. “Like I said, this was not a nice rain. It was ugly and we had water everywhere.”