City reminds public to keep ditches clear

Published 4:29 am Friday, January 6, 2017

City Public Works Director James Hall said the city found itself in a compromising position after some heavy weekend rains damaged some city infrastructure.

Hall said he always reminds homeowners to clear out drainage ditches after mowing or yard work, so that if heavy rains come, the culverts don’t get clogged with debris and the yards don’t flood.

However, last week city maintenance crews cleared some weeds and brush out of the industrial park’s culverts alongside Washington Street. When they were done, they left the debris in the ditches.

Then, the rains came.

“We got caught with our britches down,” Hall said.

So, this week a city crew was out, scraping and shoveling vegetative debris out from a clogged drain.

“When the rain came, it took everything we had cut and it caused a catch basin to wash out,” Hall said.

Hall said he expects the drain to be cleared out in two or three days, but he said that’s two or three days of manpower that could have been spent elsewhere.

“It’s time and effort I wouldn’t have had to spend if I’d had it cleaned before the rain came,” he said.

Hall said as embarrassing as the situation was, he hopes it’s an object lesson for residents.

“You have to keep your leaves out of the ditches,” he said.

Hall said he was inundated with phone calls Sunday from residents who were concerned their ditches weren’t draining properly and their yards were flooding. But for the most part, Hall said there was nothing he could do.

“We’re not responsible for getting leaves out of your ditch,” he said. “That’s the homeowner or a neighbor. It’s not the city.”

And, as it turned out, the city had its own ditches and drains to clean out.