With steady rains and saturated grounds, Apalachicola residents have discovered the ravages of stormwater.
One resident Charlie Sawyer has lodged a campaign to bring attention to the problem, working closely with city staff as well as starting a Facebook page “Unclog Our Storm Drains Now.”
“I am particularly concerned because I am completely isolated in my own house,” he wrote back in late December. “ can only get out by wading through six inches of water. I am deprived of the use of my entire yard. I put out stepping stones of paving blocks so we could get to the car without getting our feet wet, but after last night's addition rain, most of those are now under water.
“This water is simply not draining, and will remain for days. There is zero movement in the ditch or culvert,” he said.
“I know the system was working (if poorly) when we moved here. I could see movement in the ditch after heavy rains,” he wrote to City Manager Ron Nalley some weeks back. “Could this total blockage be related to Hurricane Michael? Storm debris totally clogging this part of the system? If so, maybe FEMA money would be available to mitigate?”
Unfortunately, Nalley said the city did not have the equipment to drain the streets, but city staff have been busy seeing what they can do to clear clogged stormwater drains.
“Greg Harris and a city backhoe have been working to unclog the drainage ditch near our house,” Sawyer said earlier this week. “This did not work to drain the ditch, but they discovered a blockage further down the line, where the drainage goes underground, between 17th and 16th on Avenue F.
“Mr. Harris had the backhoe clear out the small secondary ditch again, which will provide some drainage over the weekend, but cannot drain the whole stretch,” he wrote.
In his report to city commissioners Tuesday, Nalley urged patience as the city deals with an aging system, with signs of neglect.
“Due to the extreme rain events, the city has been experiencing several problems with our stormwater and sewer systems. Due to the volume and intensity of the rain, the ground is completely saturated and we have experienced backups in several areas around the city,” he said. “Crews are working hard to resolve these, but please understand that some of these matters will require longer term solutions. If you have specific questions or concerns about an area, please do not hesitate to call me or our public works staff.”