May deluge floods Lee’s Summit streets and homes

rpulley@lsjournal.comJune 12, 2013 

A torrent of rain at the end of May in Lee’s Summit caused flooding at 46 residences in streets, or basements and yards.

Several residents complained to the City Council at its June 6 meeting, pleading for action, saying they’ve asked for improvements to inadequate storm sewers for years.

One area is the Robin Hills neighborhood along Walnut Street.

Mary Lowe and Susan Adams who live on Walnut told the council a normal rain floats leaves and trash that block storm system inlets that have narrow grates. The street floods, sometimes stalling cars.

Adams said she has to go outside and clear the inlets to make sure water does not back into her home. She said she leaves work to come home and baby sit the drain. She asks neighbors to watch the drains if she’s going to out of town. She said she lost personal property, because of flooding.

“I’m a slave to these drains,” Adams said. “I’m at my wits end.”

She said she lost personal property.

Richard Roberts, of 540 S.E. Ashton Court said storm sewers that open into a swale behind his home caused his property values to plummet $17,000 when an assessor saw pictures of storm water roiling behind his house.

The National Weather Service said that on morning of May 31 the Lee’s Summit area had 2.07 inches of rain on already saturated ground, more than one-inch-per hour in early morning, reported at Lee’s Summit Municipal Airport. The city had 8.37 inches for May, about 2.68 inches above normal.

Bob Hartnett, deputy director of public works, said it was an extraordinary downpour, even heavier in the south parts of the city.

“My street turned into a raging river very quickly, an event that I don’t see happen very often,” Hartnett said.

With soil already saturated very little of the water could be absorbed and overwhelmed public and private storm drainage, he said.

Rain filled culverts, storm sewers while fallen limbs and other debris blocked inlets, Hartnett said.

Officials were concerned about damage to bridges and made inspections but found no problems.

Hartnett said that public works had identified that about 26 percent of the problems were private issues. The rest were faults of the public system, some of which are already in process of upgrades.

Hartnett said 33 percent had “something in the works” while 41 percent of those problem areas were unfunded at this time.

Walnut Street is one of those areas, Hartnett said, with work being completed on the design and plans to start on acquiring easements this year and construction to start next year.

Voters approved $15.4 million in general obligation bonds in 2007 for storm water improvements for problem areas that are the city’s responsibility; 16 of 27 are complete while others are in progress in stages of design or easement acquisition. There are about another $25 million in lower-priority city projects not yet funded.

City Manager Steve Arbo said the city in 2002 had appointed a task force to look at flooding in the city. It recommended steps in addition to the bond issue to require tougher standards for new pipes and inlets being built in the city, which went into effect in 2004

He said during such heavy rains, the city used to get nearly 80 complaints but the call volume this year was “much smaller magnitude” so the improvements made so far have helped.

In other business the council reappointed Paula Belser, Brad Cox and Beth Lindquist for three-year terms to the Lee’s Summit Arts Council and Gina Seibel to the LS 360 Implementation Committee to replace Daren Fristoe.

It also awarded bids for:

• Installing a $172,701 traffic signal at Lakewood Way and Bowlin Road by Leath & Sons

• Traffic calming projects for Bridal Wood Drive and Coral Drive, $78,690 to Gunter Construction

•  Micro surface for streets, which helps preserve pavement, $1.26 million to Vance Brothers

• Street overlay, $1.8 million to Superior Bowen Asphalt Company LLC

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