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Heavy rain floods driveways, fills basements

By Whitney Evans, | Posted - Aug 20th, 2014 @ 8:07pm


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MURRAY — A faint outline on purple and black paper is all that can be seen of what once was a draft document of the Provo City Center Temple.

Ink covered the pages of former architectural drafter Kiersten Davis' professional portfolio. Once kept in the basement of her Murray home, it now sat waterlogged inside a full garbage can outside after a heavy storm swept through the area Wednesday morning.

Her husband, Mark Davis, said he called the city but was told the person he needed to speak with was out of the office. He said he hopes city engineers will check out the grade of the road, possibly raise the height of the curbs in the neighborhood, install additional storm drains in his area or simply give him pointers on how to avoid this same situation in the future.

“I think with my little drainage systems, I could have handled the amount of rain that landed on my property, but when we’re talking about handling all of the water coming down from the road and other people’s yards, yeah, there’s no way my little drainage system could handle that,” he said.

About an inch of rain fell in some areas in the valley between Tuesday and Wednesday, according to KSL meteorologist Kevin Eubank. It flooded more than 20 homes combined in Murray and West Jordan. Homeowners looked to city officials for answers. In both cases, officials said they were looking for answers but pointed to extreme weather as the cause.

West Jordan

Flooded homes on 6920 South were evident Wednesday by miscellaneous items drying in the sun outside as well as by the sound of machinery removing water from inside.

An estimated 17 homes were flooded and some residents in the city were calling on city officials to fix what they see as a recurring problem.

"West Jordan says every year, 'It's fixed. It's fixed,'" said Jeff Cassity who lives in the basement of a home that flooded. "When you're standing in knee-deep of water, how is that fixed?"

Residents frustrated with city after flooding
Debbie Dujanovic
WEST JORDAN — This is not the first time homes on 6920 South have flooded.

Homeowners are saying that flooding happens every year, and they blame the city, not mother nature.

"They (city officials) don't really care if it's ruining our property value. It's ruining my car now. Everything of value we have now is getting ruined by the city," homeowner Lindy Christensen said. "We can't sell it because we'll have to tell the next people, and the value's probably gone down so much from the flooding that we would take a huge hit."

Jeff Cassity said that this is the second time his basement has flooded just this summer.

"They (city officials) need to do something, they need to do something now," Cassity said. "It (floods) in August every year, and every year West Jordan comes down and goes, 'It's fixed.' If I'm doing a backstroke down the street, it's not fixed."

Cassity said at least part of the problem is a valve he says the city forgets to close on a detention basin when heavy rain hits.

Bryce Haderlie, the city's Interim City Manager, said crews were out overnight to make sure storm drains were clear and the valve that holds water in the basin was closed.

"The biggest contributing factor is we received almost an inch of rain in one hour. That's a horrible, large amount of water for any system," Haderlie said.

But residents are frustrated and say that's not good enough.

"I just want an answer. I want them to either fix it or tell us they can't so we can actually do something to protect ourselves," Cassity said.

He and other residents pointed to the drainage system at Constitution Park, 7000 S. 3200 West, as being the cause of the flooding.

The park is one of many in the area with storm detention systems designed to collect water in the event of a large storm. They are connected to the storm drains that empty into a nearby canal. A gate valve leading to the storm drains was closed Tuesday in anticipation of the storm so that the drains were not overrun with water. Crews reopened the drains at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday after the rain had stopped, according to West Jordan spokeswoman Kim Wells. Any flooding that occurred Wednesday was the result of the weather, not a failure on the city's part, she said.

Two homes that flooded Wednesday — at 3230 W. 6960 South and 3220 W. 6920 South — have been in this situation multiple times. A Google map street view shot taken in August 2011 shows sandbags in front of both properties.

"We just don't know what to do. We can't even use the bottom half of our house because we know this is a risk," said Lindy Christensen who lives at 3220 W. 6920 South with her husband and daughter. "This is everything we have. When we moved in we didn't know this would happen and it happened right after we got here. We don't have any choice. What can we do?"

A toddler-sized shirt with monkeys in sunglasses lay drying in the sun on the concrete porch of her home beside an equally small pair of pajama pants, shoes and other soggy items. Nathan Christensen said he pays several hundred to more than a thousand dollars each time the basement floods to clean it up. About a half dozen sandbags sat at the top of the driveway, apparently unsuccessful in keeping water out of the house.

"It's just time for (the city) to fix their problem," he said Wednesday.

City officials say they have been and are working on solutions to the problem. Since 2005 the city has spent $12,515,879 on storm water improvement projects, and have almost $2.3 million budgeted for the upcoming year, according to Wells.

Interim City Manager Bryce Haderlie was visiting with Barbara Backman, mother-in-law of the homeowners with regular flooding on 3230 W. 6960 South, Wednesday. She could be heard telling him that the residents see the city as "the bully on the block." She later said she realizes that Haderlie is new to the position and was willing to cut him some slack.

Haderlie was apologetic but insisted, "We did everything we could." He said the city will continue to look into ways to alleviate future storm drain problems.

The city's storm drains were tested again Wednesday evening when another storm rolled in, depositing another 0.3 inches of rain.

Murray

The Davis family has lived in their home for only a couple of months. The previous owner warned them that the home flooded after a water main break a year ago, but they were not prepared for the several inches of water that came into their basement after Tuesday night's rain.

The Davis home lies to the northwest of an inclined road that forks in two directions. Water from Wednesday morning's storm diverted both ways, flooding a home a few doors up and running down the Davis' sloped driveway and into their garage and basement.

Flooding hit a few areas in Murray as well, with the Davis' neighborhood seeing six to eight homes impacted by the downpour, according to Jan Wells, Murray's chief administrative officer. Engineers, storm drain specialists and insurance adjusters were out Wednesday investigating the wake of the storm. While some homes with inclined driveways will likely continue to "have problems," she said, the city is doing the "best we can" to understand the situation.

Contributing: Shara Park, Mary Richards, Nicole Vowell

Get the weather forecast at the KSL Weather Page.

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