City residents seek solutions to flooding

Published 4:51 pm Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The message is clear: do something to minimize flooding in Washington.

Several city residents delivered that message to the Washington City Council during its meeting Monday. One of those residents illustrated his comments with photographs of flooding caused by torrential rains in past years.

One councilman said a solution to the flooding problem could be a major project to improve drainage in the city, possibly paid for with money raised by issuing bonds.

Katie Mosher, who lives on East 12th Street with her two children, made it clear she wants the city to immediately address the flooding issue. “Over the past eight years, I have watched as the flooding problem has gotten progressively worse,” she said. “Twice a year, every year without fail, I have to replace the duct work and insulation under my home because of flooding. … Not only is this expensive, it’s also getting harder and harder to find someone willing to crawl under my house.”

Mosher said she and her children have learned to cope with the flooding. “We joke about it being riverfront property. It’s no joke,” she said.

“Being no stranger to how the wheels of government work, I do not expect a speedy response to my phone calls, emails and visits to City Hall. As the years drag on, I am disgusted by how the city has treated the citizens of East 12th Street.”

Mosher said a former city employee told her that her house “was taking one for the team.” Mosher said about two months ago another city employee told her it would be about three years before the city “could even look at East 12th Street.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, I no longer want to take one for the team. I’ve had enough. I do not want to be placated or patted on the head…. I want action,” Mosher said.

Carter Leary, also an East 12th Street resident, used several photographs to illustrate flooding problems and the drainage system in his neighborhood. Leary said better maintenance of that system would help alleviate flooding problems.

“We need some help out there. … We need help cleaning out the ditches,” Leary said.

City resident Donna Lay challenged the city to address the flooding problem by doing more drainage work. It that work cannot be done all at once, do it in phases, she suggested.

Councilman Doug Mercer said addressing the drainage problem in phases, as the city’s been doing, is not doing much to alleviate the problem.

“We can continue to do it that way and we’re never going to solve our problem. I know there are going to be some people who are going to fall of their seats, but I think it’s time that as the council we ask the staff to put together a program, tell us how much money we need to correct the major drainage problems,” Mercer said, noting that some of the city’s drainage infrastructure is years old and inadequate to meet current needs.

“I think it’s time for us to bite the bullet. If we need a $10 million or $15 million project, let’s put together a bond issue, ask the people to vote on it. If the people say they want to correct the problem, we borrow the money and fix it. It’s time to quit kicking the can down the road,” Mercer said.

Council members Richard Brooks and William Pitt said the city must move forward with addressing the flooding issue.

“I will concur with Councilman Mercer, but I also concur with the bond referendum. We are often afraid of bonds because that is long-term debt, but if our entire city is very serious about taking care of this problem and making this the only priority that we do, then we need to go forward with it,” Pitt said, adding that if the city and its residents are serious about fixing the problem, they should not waiver in that effort.



About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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