Two city residents renew drainage complaints

Published 7:31 pm Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Washington’s City Council, during its meeting Monday, heard from two voices from the past — and with the same messages.

Charles Daniels, an Iron Creek resident, asked the city for help regarding drainage in the subdivision. Linda Witchell, an East 12th Street resident, wants the city to address a water problem under her home that she believes is caused by aging pipes that are part of the city’s drainage system.

Daniels and Witchell have appeared before the council several times in past years.

Daniels, who lives on Ore Court, has asked the city to help Iron Creek residents with recurring drainage problems several times in the past 12 years or so. He acknowledges city efforts have helped alleviate drainage problems, adding that those efforts have not eliminated those problems. Daniels said he and some of his neighbors feel like the city “just pushed us off.”

In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, some floodwaters “got into mailboxes” of some Iron Creek residents, according to Daniels. “We need some help. We need it now,” Daniels said.

Although floodwaters have never entered her house since she’s lived there, flooding and related drainage problems have damaged her HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system and yard, she said. Witchell contends old, deteriorating drainage pipes running under the house sometimes “spurt” water — even when it does not rain — under the crawlspace of her house “with the force of a fire hydrant” that sometimes “drowns my furnace.”

“You guys need to find some place than under my house to store the extra stormwater. At least give us back our ditches and slow it down a little. … Flood insurance won’t allow me to elevate my HVAC system,” Witchell said. “I need a Band-Aid while we figure it all out.”

Witchell said that in the 11 years after Hurricane Floyd in 1999, she had no flood-related damage at her home. “Since 2010, the (drainage) improvements that have been made have increased my damages exponentially. I’ve had four flood insurance claims in six years. I only had two in the 20 years before that. Flood insurance doesn’t cover all the damage or expenses,” she said. “These three events in September and October will cost me thousands of dollars, plus two deductibles. I can’t afford this.”

Witchell told the council the city can “easily fix this” by allowing someone to work on the drainage pipes on her property.

The council instructed city staff to look into the complaints lodged by Daniels and Witchell, with the goal of finding solutions, if possible.

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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