08/02/05 — Trying to stop flooding

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Trying to stop flooding

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on August 2, 2005 2:01 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Piggly Wiggly store owner Moses King said he has been waiting 20 years for Mount Olive to solve his store's flooding problems.

Every time the area gets a heavy rain, runoff from the north and west settles in the business's parking lot and eventually makes its way into the store.

King has been meeting with town officials about what he says might be a solution, holding ponds that would fill up with water when the area gets a storm that results in rain that measures more than four inches at one time. The ponds would have to hold at least four inches, he said.

The store took in water during the flash flood last week, but not as much as it did during Hurricane Floyd in September 1999. The storm that day dumped six inches of rain on Mount Olive, four inches of which came in one hour.

King said he has taken precautionary measures to stop the flooding by having temporary door panels available to keep the water from coming into the store. During the most recent downpour, however, the rain started around 6:30 p.m., and four inches accumulated in about an hour -- too quickly for panel installers to get the preventative measures in place.

By the time the panels were down, King said, the water had already covered the entire store.

The rains abated at around 8 or 9 p.m.

King said it took about five hours to get all the water out of the building.

He said he met a couple weeks before the recent flood with town officials and representatives from the town's engineering company to talk about what to do about the flooding. He said the store's area of town needs adequate retention ponds and another corridor to go under Breazeale Avenue when heavy rains come.

"It floods to the height of the street and runs over like a dam," King said. "The culvert under Breazeale doesn't handle the flow. It's a complicated solution, and that's the reason it hasn't been done in 25 years."

Part of the solution was repairing and replacing old sewer lines in the Piggly Wiggly area of Breazeale Avenue. The store's parking lot didn't flood in October when a half-inch of rain came down in 25 minutes. Town workers rushed out to check the parking lot, and the rain had gone through the new pipes and never got any higher.

The flood waters need to be re-directed, King said. But getting that accomplished is taking time.

"It's a big wheel issue, and big wheels turn slow," he said. King said Town Manager Ray McDonald and Special Projects Director Maylon Weeks have been trying to come up with a solution, but he says the problem should have been diagnosed and solved 20 years ago.

"It's too big a problem being chased by too few dollars," he said. "We're trying to correct it."