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Somerset Borough residents upset about flooding; stormwater study nearly complete

February 27, 2018 GMT

Several residents voiced concerns Monday night about recent flooding in Somerset Borough.

Donna Johnson told council members at their meeting that she has had flood damage at her residence along West Union Street for the past five years, with expenses reaching almost $8,000. Johnson said it’s become a no-win situation for everyone on her street.

“I have considered moving, but I could not in good conscience sell my house without disclosing the constant and repeating problems with my home, which lowers my (property’s) value,” she said.

Dozens of areas in Somerset County experienced flooding two weeks ago after almost 2.8 inches of rain fell between 4:30 p.m. Feb. 15 and 5:30 p.m. Feb. 16. Experts said the rain was equivalent to about 2 feet of snow.

Johnson and some of her neighbors came to the meeting to speak with council about possible solutions to the flooding problem.

“I’ve become very discouraged, and I’m sure I’m not the only one,” she told council members.

The Somerset Volunteer Fire Department answered 32 calls throughout the night, most for flooded basements. Officials said borough residents began experiencing flooded basements about three hours after the rain began.

“We had almost 3 inches of rainfall in a 24-hour period,” borough manager Michele Enos said during the meeting.

Enos added that the borough plans this year to extend the curbing on Johnson’s street to direct more water into the drain.

Sally Dice told council members that water came up from the sewer lines, leaving 4 inches of sewage in her basement. She added that the damage could be around “a couple grand to repair.”

“This is the second time in eight months I’ve had it,” she said.

Enos said many of the backups in the sewer system occur during what she called a “perfect storm.” Saturated ground, heavy rainfall over short periods of time and melting snow create the perfect conditions for streams and sewer lines to overflow in the borough.

“It’s very hard for any storm system to handle that amount of rain under those conditions over a short period of time,” she said.

The borough is working on a $20,000 stormwater study with The EADS Group, which officials said should be finished by next month. Enos is hopeful the study will provide proposals to alleviate the flooding problem.

“It’s not a simple solution, but we are working toward one,” she said.