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Southeast Victoria residents dealing with flooding

By DAVID TEWES
Oct. 1, 2010 at 5:01 a.m.

Lola Hedricks winces as she thinks about having to remodel her home again, after rising water flooded her home a second time, since May. Her home on Linda Street had new carpet and tile installed, bathrooms remodeled and new kitchen cabinets, all of which have to be replaced once again.

Did you know?Public Works Director Lynn Short said it could cost between $6 million and $7 million to fix a flooding problem in a southeast Victoria neighborhood.

Lola Hedrick is as mad as a wet hen right now.

Her house at 3309 Linda Drive in Victoria has been flooded twice this year, causing a total of $50,000 in damage.

"Honey, I don't know what I'm going to do," she said. "It's terrible. It ruined everything we had."

Just when she got the $30,000 in damage from the May flood repaired, the house flooded again in August and caused another $20,000 in damage.

Hedrick said had she not had flood insurance, she'd probably have to give the house away.

Council Member Gabriel Soliz, whose district includes that area, said her complaint about flooding is not the only one he's received. He said the flooding has encompassed an area east of Lova Drive on Swan, Gayle and Linda drives.

He called a town hall meeting of residents in the area to gather information about the problem. He said residents told him the problem started about three years ago and has been getting worse.

Soliz said three years ago is about the time the streets there were resurfaced and when the city built the Swan Crossing subdivision.

Flooding is one thing, Soliz said. But he added that the floodwaters become polluted by household trash from garbage containers that tip over and by raw sewage.

"To me, it became a health issue when you had trash floating away," he said.

Soliz said he and representatives of the residents met with city staff after the town hall meeting in search of the cause of the problem and a solution. "Now that we're aware of this, we can't just walk away from it."

Public Works Director Lynn Short blamed the problem on the torrential rains Victoria has had this year.

"It's the heavy, heavy rains that far exceed the design of the storm sewers there," he said. "I think that's the bulk of the problem."

Short said there is a low spot in that area east of Lova where the flooding has occurred. When the storm sewer exceeds capacity during heavy rains, the overflow naturally goes to the low spot, he said.

He said when the subdivision was built, the storm sewer standards were not as stringent as they are today. He also said the required elevation for houses above the street was lower then.

Raw sewage in the floodwater is not unusual in situations like that, coming from both public and private sewer lines, he said.

The city's system could have cracks or holes that allow the sewage to leak out. But he said private sewer lines could also be a problem if people have gutter drains tied into them or if the clean-outs are missing caps.

Short said the staff will discuss the problem with the city council Tuesday when the council reviews a list of possible capital improvements. He said a fix for the flooding won't be cheap.

"If you increase the storm sewer there substantially, you probably need to increase the capacity of the Jim Branch Outfall, which is where that drains to," he said. "If you do all that work, you're probably talking somewhere between $6 million and $7 million."

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