Flooding hits Hamilton’s West Side again


Call the city’s 24-hour line, 513-785-7550, and hit option 5.

City officials already were investigating causes of June 2 flooding and ways to prevent that, but now will expand their investigations to help any additional areas that flooded Thursday.

City crews will want to visit your property to see for themselves the possible source of the problem, and will be very interested in the approximate depth of the flooding, which helps them identify the extent of the problem.

An additional reason to call: The city is considering helping property owners pay the cost of sewer-lateral check valves that can prevent water from backing up into their basements.

More flooding hit Hamilton’s West Side on Thursday night, damaging businesses, flooding basements and keeping some employees up well past midnight cleaning water from their workplaces.

A Ford Mustang was even seen floating down Rhea Avenue.

It was a repeat of a situation many of the same residents and business owners experienced June 2, when another heavy storm did similar damage, prompting the city to investigate ways to alleviate two kinds of flooding problems. The first is sewage backing up into residential basements; the other is flooding in the 900 block of Main Street and nearby roadways that rises and pours into nearby buildings.

Terry Stephens, a former science teacher who lives just outside Hamilton city limits on the West Side, said a rain gauge he has recorded more than 4 inches of rain overnight. He was puzzled about why the area has experienced flooding twice in just over two months as he sat at Andy’s Restaurant, located along Main Street where water flooded some businesses.

“I don’t know if it’s just a fluke of every few years or greater long-term implications,” such as global warming, Stephens said. “It seems like a big trend of change.”

Tim Wolf, owner of Andy’s Restaurant, was glad his business wasn’t flooded, like others nearby. But business was slow for a Friday morning, he and his employees noted. They wondered whether customers were staying away because they thought the restaurant had been flooded again, as it was in June, when eight inches of water were an unwelcome visitor.

Hamilton Public Utilities Director Kevin Maynard, whose staff is working to address the basement flooding issues, is requesting that anyone who was flooded Thursday or June 2 contact the city’s 24-hour line at 513-785-7550, and hit option 5 to let the city know.

City officials since the June flooding have asked residents and property owners to let them know if they've experienced flooding at any time since 2011, so Hamilton can better assess the extent of the problem and formulate solutions. A number of possible fixes are under consideration.

Maynard said Thursday’s flooding hit properties differently than the June 2 storm: Some had less flooding, others had more, and some had flooding that their properties didn’t experience in June.

“Some of the same areas in the Highland Park area were impacted,” as well as along Ross Avenue and several other streets that did not see flooding in June, Maynard said. “We had a couple of reports here, like one on Gordon (Avenue), that said they had two feet of water in their basements.”

In an email, City Manager Joshua Smith said city crews early Friday morning were sent “to address resident concerns, as well as issues such as: debris on streets, missing manhole covers, and obstructed sanitary sewer pipes, catch basins, and storm sewer pipes.”

Because of Thursday’s storm, “it’s going to expand the area that we’re going to be doing some of the testing, for sure,” to see whether buildings’ gutter downspouts, sump pumps and basement floor drains are incorrectly connected to sanitary sewers, Maynard said.

After people contact the city, “we want to go out and take a look at any wet basement reports that we’ve got, and that would be a good time for us also to do the dye testing of sump pumps and floor drains,” to identify what the cause was, Maynard said. Crews also will want to know “the approximate depth of the water — that helps us identify the extent of this.”

Potential good news for property owners: Because solutions to the flooding could take some time to implement — at a cost of millions of dollars — the city now is considering helping building owners pay the cost of sewer-lateral check valves that can prevent water from backing up into their properties.

Next door to Andy’s, at Michael’s Salon, employees worked from about 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. cleaning up about an inch of water that flooded the business from the back of the building, said stylist Ashley Ledington.

“The (storm) drains looked like they were stopped up,” Ledington said.

On the other side of Andy’s, at the Sign Addiction business, sand bags in front of the store prevented water from entering that way, but water still streamed down the walls, creating problems, said Jamie Bowling, the owner, who showed up at her store around 11 p.m. to lift things from the floor to prevent them from being damaged. She said she’s considering moving the business back into her home, which she said doesn’t flood.

Even though water was high on Main Street around 11 p.m., “there were still cars flying up and down the street (before police shut down the roadway) — that’s a big problem,” Bowling said. “Because when they are coming up and down, it creates the wave, and it’s just non-stop” pushing water into businesses, she said.

“I can’t even leave this city if it’s going to rain” because of the need to move things to avoid damage, she said.

Bowling said she spoke with one man who told her someone in the nearby Highland Park “already had a foot of water” in the basement. “I feel bad for me, but what about these people, who, it’s pushing up sewer water and all kinds of stuff?”

“I can lock the store and go home,” Bowling added. “Now, this is how I feed my family … but, I can’t imagine this going on at my home, like this would all be 100,000 times worse. I can’t imagine stepping in sewer water in my home. That would take the cake.”

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