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FLOODING Council hears residents



Published: Tue, September 21, 2004 @ 12:00 a.m.



Runoff from about 5,370 acres of county land drains into Walnut Creek.

By STEPHEN SIFF

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

CORTLAND -- City officials say they know how to prevent some of the floods and swollen riverbeds that swamped many areas of the city last week and damaged the basements of about 150 residents.

They just can't afford it.

At a council meeting Monday, residents of Tournament Trail and South Colonial Drive aired frustration at property damage caused earlier this month, which for some was a repeat of floods two years ago.

"The last two years have been a disaster," said Janis Soldani of South Colonial Drive. "My insurance will not cover me. If I submit another claim to them, they will drop me."

Soldani and many of her neighbors on South Colonial watched as an unnamed tributary of Walnut Creek rose during heavy rains caused by hurricane remnants to the point where creek water was covering back yards and seeping through doors and windows.

Rising water from Walnut Creek itself also was blamed for flooding that ruined home basements along Tournament Trail.

Floodwaters also got into the Cortland Roller Rink, endangering a $200,000 floor, said owner Jim DiGiacobbe. Flooding like this is bad for development, he said.

"When these people go to sell their homes, they are going to have to disclose that there was 7 feet of water in the basement and nobody will want to buy it," he said.

Consultant's recommendation

A $14,000 consultant's study identified a solution to flooding around Walnut Creek, officials say. The primary fix would be creation of a giant retention pond north of the city, which would have to be located on land the city does not own. The estimated cost is $3 million.

"Three million dollars is not feasible, at least with city funds," said Councilman Michael Hillman.

In the meantime, he said the city would add the Tournament Trail area to the list of four or five areas in need of storm water improvements.

"The solution may be years away, and you may be flooded out again before it is solved," Hillman said.

Homeowners on South Colonial were advised to clean their backyard stream themselves. The city has no authority over the stream because it is on private property, service director Don Wittman said.

Saturated ground

In 24 hours, about 5 inches of rain fell on the area, Wittman said. Farmers' fields north of the city were already saturated from rain in the weeks before, so much of the water drained south.

Storm water runoff from about 5,370 acres of mostly rural Trumbull County eventually flows to Walnut Creek.

"No matter what improvements we designed, the amount of runoff generated by the rain would flood any newly designed system," Wittman said.

Wittman said he took responsibility for not effectively spreading the word that the waste-hauling company Browning-Ferris Industries agreed to remove residents' flood-damaged items from the curbside.

Several residents of Walnut Run Condominiums 1 spent thousands of dollars to rent large trash receptacles on their own before learning that the city had made arrangements, David Jenkins, the condo association's corporate secretary, told council.




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