Water rushes streets in Mount Olive during storm
By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 23, 2008 1:48 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- Rain falling at the rate of more than eight inches an hour at one point Tuesday afternoon left many streets and yards in town under several inches of water. More rain is forecast for today.
In some locations yards looked like ponds and rushing water created mini-waterfalls and whirlpools as it crossed streets and driveways. Vehicles created tides as they maneuvered along the flooded roads, while others threw out large plumes of water when they failed to slow down.
Some of the worst flooding occurred along Crest Drive, North Breazeale Avenue between College and John streets and on James Street -- all of which have a history of flooding.
While streets were flooded town-wide, the worst flooding occurred from College Street south and from North Breazeale Avenue east.
The storm downed numerous small limbs and branches and there were reports of several small trees and telephone lines that were brought down as well.
The storm struck about 4:20 p.m. and pounded the town for almost an hour and a half with heavy rains, high wind, thunder and lightning.
There was one report of water entering a business -- a pet grooming business on West James Street -- a section of street known for flooding.
Town Manager Charles Brown said he was unsure how much water had gotten under the door.
"Given the rate it was falling, I expected it to be worse," said Brown, who was patrolling around town checking for flooding and damages. "I know people who got water in their yards think it was bad enough as it is."
Brown said he knew of no major damages associated with the storm.
"Anybody affected by it thinks it is a major problem and I certainly understand that, but if we can keep it out of the residences and most of businesses with that kind of rainfall I don't know much more we can expect to do.
"At the peak of the rainfall around 5 p.m. it was coming down at greater than eight inches an hour. Usually anything over one inch per hour is going to present problems for us in our low-lying areas and of course it did today."
Brown said the town received a total of about three and one-half inches of rain in less than an hour.
"You reach a point where the system simply cannot handle any more water," he said.
Water pooled on the College Plaza Shopping Center parking lot on North Breazeale Avenue, but did not reach any of the stores.
That area also has a history of flooding. However, over the past several years the town has undertaken projects to mitigate the problem.
"If there is a solution for it I'd love to do it, but there are some situations where it is just more than a system can handle," Brown said. "Even in Crest Drive we have slowed it down, but we have not stopped it. According to the engineers we have done about all we can do to slow it down."
Those efforts include a holding pond at the top of the hill in the subdivision and cleaning out a nearby stream.
Brown said to understand the problem all a person had to do was to stand in the middle of the subdivision's cul-de-sac and look around in three directions.
"It is all uphill," he said.
"It (flood control) is a constant thing to work on," he said. "We are not finished by any stretch, but there are some things that Mother Nature is going to throw at you that you just can't handle."
Public works employees were still out at nightfall until the town could ensure the worse had past. They were out again this morning checking drains and surveying the storm's aftermath.
Brown noted that it was ironic the storm slammed the town shortly after he had just returned from meeting with Wayne County Emergency Services to do preplanning for debris handling in disaster.
"It (flooding) is something that is ongoing and you try to be prepared the best you can," he said.
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