Homeowners in the town of Clay with flood damage had an opportunity to hear what the town is doing to correct the problem last week. Town engineer Douglas Wickman of C&S Engineers shared the preliminary results of a flood study the town had undertaken at the board’s last meeting Monday July 16. About 35 residents were in attendance for the presentation.
The study was commenced after last year’s July 12 rain event, after which numerous Clay residents reported water in their basements, yards and streets. The July 16 report pertained only to those residents who had water in their homes. The study was initiated as a result of flooding and sewage backup in Bayberry but was expanded as flood forms came in from all over town, reporting basement flooding in other neighborhoods.
Wickman discussed flooding in seven neighborhoods in the town, describing the reasons C&S thought those neighborhoods experienced flooding and what it was doing to correct the problem. Residents had a chance to ask questions and give further information.
The following neighborhoods were discussed:
Six homes in Belmont, located off Route 57 near John Glenn Boulevard, were affected by the July 12 flood. Wickman said that the drainage pipe servicing this area was not large enough to handle the amount of water that came with that storm. Flooding was most severe at the bottom of the hill on Belmont Drive.
Wickman said that the town is working to clean the catch basins in that area and to keep the drainage pipes clear.
“The storm sewers are in very good working order there,” he said. “It’s a fairly good-sized pipe. It takes a very, very severe storm for a problem to occur, but it can happen. We’re looking for a flood route out of there so that if there’s a situation where the pipe can’t handle it, there will still be a place for the water to go.”
Woodstream and Ruth
The neighborhoods surrounding Woodstream Drive and Ruth Road in North Syracuse were affected by the overflow of an area stream that leads to the Clay Swamp.
Wickman said the channel is fairly clear and flows fairly well. He said the town has talked to the county about the problem, as there is a sanitary sewer trunk that runs along the channel.
“They agree that water got into the sewer, and that caused a problem,” Wickman said.
He said the county is working to limit the amount of water getting into the sanitary sewers.
Several residents had questions about the flooding in this area, noting that they’d had flooding again since last year’s storm. Wickman acknowledged that the Woodstream area has had a problem with water and drainage since the 1970s.
“Something is different,” Mary Johnson of Ruth Road said. “We’ve lived in our home since 1976 and we have lived through torrential rains. We’ve had water in our yards before. But something is different. There’s either more going in there or however it’s happening, but that never happened before where it happened to us twice in four years.”
Wickman said the town would work with OCWA and would give updates to residents at future board meetings.
Two homes on Cinnamon Path in the Castle Nova subdivision had flooding in their homes. Wickman said the problem was determined to be inadequate backyard drainage and was corrected. A storm sewer was installed, and Wickman said the residents had advised him the problem was solved.
Queenmar Circle, located off Laurie Lane near Soule Road, had one home flood. Wickman said the problem in that case was the drainage system, installed at the time the circle was constructed many years ago.
“Drainage comes down into the circle and the only way out is a storm sewer system,” he said. “We try to avoid that these days. We try to have a storm sewer and a flood route addressing drainage.”
Wickman said the town has installed additional catch basins to try to correct the problem. The town will also look to install a flood route.
About a dozen homes on Trina Circle off Caughdenoy Road near North Syracuse experienced significant flooding. He said the construction of Route 481 created problems for that area, as the output for the area is higher than the pipes that service it.
“We asked the state not to do that, but they refused,” he said.
The area had issues with drainage as well as sewer backups. Wickman said the town has just begun the process of trying to address the issue. He hopes to have an update for residents at future meetings.
One resident was affected, but as they did not attend the meeting, Wickman opted to instead contact the homeowner directly rather than share the town’s findings with all in attendance.
Thirty-four houses in Bayberry were affected by the July 12 storm, Wickman said, and that was just the number who submitted flood forms before a certain point.
“There’s a serious issue here in Bayberry,” he said. “When Bayberry was developed, the footing drains were all tied into the sanitary sewer system because that was the only place that they would put drainage. That’s the way all of Bayberry was developed. So all of the drainage from the footing drains is getting into the sanitary sewers and the sewers are not sized to handle it. That’s the basic reason for the backups in Bayberry.”
Wickman said the entire drainage system in the neighborhood would have to be redone in order to correct the problem. The town is studying the neighborhood to make the case that the problem is on private property instead of public property. C&S monitored flows in sanitary sewers in six locations in the neighborhood, all locations near very few homes. The engineers will look at that information to determine how much water comes from the homes that’s not sewage. This is being undertaken so that C&S can ask for public money to install sump pumps in as many homes as possible. In the meantime, the firm will attempt to fix everything they can in the public domain, including sealing manhole covers.
“The idea is to be able to show that we are not able to fix this problem without getting onto private property,” Wickman said.
Town Supervisor James Rowley said that the town’s Hazard Mitigation Plan will allow them to ask for county, state and federal money to install the sump pumps on private property.
If you have had flooding in your home, either has a result of the July 12, 2006 storm or another weather event, Wickman advises you to fill out a flood form. They can be obtained from Clay Town Hall or on the town’s website, townofclay.org. Contact the town of Clay at 652-3800 with further questions.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.