Emotions still on surface after flooding

pitts boulevard became a lake earlier this month, requiring water rescues and school cancellations. Residents shared their stories at the March 7 City Council meeting and have set up an e-mail account to gather complaints. Photo courtesy of Brenda Secrist

pitts boulevard became a lake earlier this month, requiring water rescues and school cancellations. Residents shared their stories at the March 7 City Council meeting and have set up an e-mail account to gather complaints. Photo courtesy of Brenda Secrist

North Ridgeville

By Jon Wysochanski

Many homes in North Ridgeville bore the brunt of stormwater and sewage backup after Feb. 28 and March 1 flooding that damaged basements, personal items, furnaces and water heaters. Several of those homeowners attended City Council’s March 7 meeting to share their experiences and to address future flood prevention.

Roger Lemon, a 27-year resident of Sugar Ridge Road, experienced 5 feet of water in his basement. He lost his furnace, water heater and woodworking tools. According to Lemon, kerosene in his basement mixed with flood waters.

“We’ve been trying to get rid of that kerosene smell for five days now,” he said. “We finally got it a little bit under control. We can’t live in the house. My wife has emphysema, and she can’t be breathing that in.”

Lemon, who lives on a fixed income, said he has to pay up front for a new furnace before his insurance company will reimburse him.

“It’s very hard on the older people like me,” he said.

Mayor David Gillock said previously if the city is declared a disaster area, some residents may qualify for reimbursement or low-interest loans. The city has since heard from the state regarding reports done by damage assessment teams (see sidebar).

Dan Gutia, who has lived for 15 years on Gina Drive, which was hit particularly hard, said he thinks using a sewer jet in his area might help things.

“I know it’s not anyone’s fault,” Gutia said. “You can’t control water and snow and everything at once. But the one time you came down our street with a sewer jet and cleaned everything out, it controlled it for a while.”

“We’ve done that before and we plan on doing it again,” Gillock responded in regard to sewer jetting. “We’ve already started looking at catch basins. We found when cleaning those, some of them had some branches and things deep down in there.”

There are retention ponds both above and below the Pitts Boulevard area, but Gillock reiterated nothing could have handled that much water at once.

“This was a flash-flood situation,” Safety Service Director Jeff Armbruster emphasized, referencing a Lorain County Emergency Management Association report.

Other residents voiced concern over sewage problems that occurred in their homes. Andy Young, who lives behind Liberty Elementary School on Elder Street, said sewer upgrades are needed.

“Once again, we had raw sewage back up in our neighborhood,” he said. “This is the third or fourth time.”

Young said several residents previously asked for a Y interceptor to be installed at Ridgeview Boulevard and Drake Street. That would help correct flow problems, he maintained, because sewage currently travels a unique route, leaving the neighborhood via Jaycox Road. The flow also dumps into a T fitting, which does not allow water to penetrate into the main when there are heavy storms, such as the most recent one, he added.

Although the Y interceptor was never installed, Young said Gillock still has been responsive to the neighborhood’s needs.

“He is looking to put $50,000 in the budget for two Y interceptors,” Young said, noting this will help his neighborhood tremendously.

Paul Papes of Lear Nagle Road said sewage has come into his home three times in the last seven years. He believes his neighborhood has similar problems to Young’s.

“They’re not being cleaned,” he said of the sewer system. “I doubt very much if anything’s going to happen … I’m tired of it. I’m 70 years old, and I don’t feel like playing in my basement with raw sewage.”

Armbruster said problems will be fixed, and the city is planning to install Y interceptors, or possibly “vault” systems, in several areas of North Ridgeville. Work could begin by late spring or early summer.

“We have to do this,” he said after the meeting. “This is something we’re committed to fixing.”

According to Armbruster, 75 residents have sent information about flooding that occurred in their homes, 15 of which were sewage backup complaints.

Young said citizens have set up an e-mail account to track wastewater problems. Anyone affected may send a message to nrwastewater@gmail.com, and the messages will be forwarded to city officials.

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