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November 22, 2013

NASH: Making problems leave

— Two Sundays ago was a beautiful day outside and the perfect day to rid the yard of those pesky leaves that had fallen. I wasn’t the only one who had thought of it, many of my neighbors had the same plan as I did. My neighborhood, which has its share of trees, was now full of people raking, blowing, bagging and ridding their yards of the fallen leaves.

Although many of my neighbors and I had the same idea of raking leaves that day, it seems that everyone had a different idea of how to dispose of them. Some people raked them out to the curb and left them in the gutters. Others bagged them up and left them for the weekly trash pick up. Personally, I raked up the leaves from my front yard, dragged them to my back yard and will compost them over the next year.

With so many leaves just sitting in the street I was concerned about how long they would remain before they were picked up. I believed that if there was a good rain that the storm drains would become clogged and cause flooding on our street. I was even more worried that a nice autumn breeze would blow and that our yards would once again be covered in the very same leaves that we had spent the better part of a scarce free weekend day to remove.

I went to the city of New Albany’s Facebook page to see if there was any information there about what the plan was for getting rid of leaves this year. There was no information so I thought I would send a direct message to the moderator to find out more about the leaf removal plan. I waited a few days and there was no response.

 Last weekend I was awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of pouring rain. My wife was concerned that she had yet to hear the sump pump go off and was worried that water would be collecting in our basement. Within minutes the purr and swoosh of the sump pump was heard and for the next several hours we would hear it every few minutes. I was more concerned with what would be going on outside.

My fears were realized when I looked outside to see our street full of water. We had experienced this several times before in the few years that we have lived in this house. This was the worst that I had seen.  

I knew that the storm drain was clogged and the water would not be able to be removed as it was designed. Someone would have to clear the drain of the debris so that the flood waters would not damage any property. I went out and attempted to clear the drain, but my actions were futile. Standing in knee deep rain water, I was only able to clear a few leaves but not enough to make much difference. The pouring rain along with the standing water and the plethora of leaves that were continuing to head to the storm drain, I thought it was time to call in the professionals.

I went to the city of New Albany’s Stormwater website to get the phone number of someone who could help. The phone number listed had a message that had an emergency number that I called to see if they could come out. A person promptly answered and said they would send someone. A few minutes later someone else was attempting to clear the storm drain.

I knew that enough time had not elapsed for someone to have shown up. I realized that a couple of my neighbors were out there doing what I was not able to. Working together for nearly an hour, with the rain now letting up, they were able to clear the drain so that our street was no longer flooded.

Later that morning, on my way to church I realized why my street had not been an immediate concern. Grant Line Road near Daisy Lane was closed due to flooding. I was sure that many more issues had consumed their time.

The Stormwater’s website also led me to the answer of when they would be around to pick up leaves, sort of. The city was broken down into sections with each section being worked on a certain day of the week. It didn’t explain when it would start and end and it wasn’t clear on whether they would do the entire area of the map each week.

A quick question to the email provided on the Stormwater website received a prompt response that gave me all the information that I needed. Coincidentally the next day the city’s Facebook page posted much of the same information.

The city operates two leaf vacuums between Oct. 14 through Dec. 9. Their goal is to reach each street twice within this period. They encourage citizens to bag yard waste for weekly removal of up to 10 bags on their normal pick up day. My street was vacuumed on Wednesday this week for the first time this year.

Thousands and thousands of bags of leaves headed to the landfill doesn’t sound like a very environmentally friendly plan. If that’s what it takes to keep the gutters and storm drain cleared I guess it will have to do. Be aware of what occurs when you dispose of your leaves improperly and plan accordingly. The most important thing to remember is not to wait for the government to save your street and property from the potential of flooding.

— Matthew Nash can be reached at dmatthewnash@gmail.com

  

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