MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – Despite a years-long campaign by Mayor Sandy Stimpson to improve the flow of water during heavy rain, flooding remains a problem in the Port City.
After a downpour Tuesday, water obscured Bradford Avenue just like it always does in heavy rain.
Or sometimes, not even a heavy rain.
“Oh, it’s regular days – you know Sunday afternoon, Friday afternoon, Tuesday afternoon. It doesn’t really matter,” said Colin Bailey. “If it rains in the middle of the afternoon, it floods the streets.”
Mobile Public Safety Director James Barber said the city spends roughly $21 million a year on capital improvement projects. He said “million and millions of dollars” – city officials could not immediately provide a specific figure – are devoted to improving drainage.
“As you see these capital projects where we’re going in and doing the streets, we’re not just putting in new surface on the streets,” he said. “They’re actually addressing that infrastructure problem as they go along. And there’s been quite a bit done to help with the storm water, and trying to get it out of the city.”
Barber said the city is prioritizing the areas with the biggest needs. City workers also have tried to prevent flooding through simple steps, like keeping stormwater drains cleared of debris.
“This particular time of year, you got a lot of oak leaves that are on the ground, and so those also impede the stormwater drainage system,” he said. “And so, we’re making sure that we keep it clear.”
Some folks in Midtown, though, said they have not noticed much of a difference. Karen Gordon said water even routine rainstorms fills the road in front of her Bradford Avenue home. And when it’s a heavy storm, she added, the results can be quite dramatic.
“It generally floods to the point to where you can see these garbage cans floating down,” she said. “I have seen that. We’ve been threatening to have canoe races down here.”
Gordon gestured toward neighbor’s house and added, “Oh, I’m serious. He has a couple of kayaks and we were talking about that a few times.”
Once coming from work, Gordon said, she had car trouble.
“It actually stalled out on me as I was turning in my driveway, and I was praying I could get into the driveway without it dying in the middle of the street,” she said.
Bailey, who lives across the street, said the stormwater drains simply can’t handle the volume of water that quickly builds up when it rains – especially when they are clogged with leaves and pine straw. The bright spot, he said, is that it does not generally last long.
“It comes quick and, you know, and it goes quick,” he said. “If you clean out the drains, which the city doesn’t clean ’em out. You know. the residents around here go out there and, you know, rake all the leaves and pine straw and everything else out.”
Evelyn Pounds has seen many a rainstorm from her home on Hannon Avenue. She said the flooding is worse farther up the street. The water flows down and usually stops at a speed bump in front of her property.
Pounds said it makes driving dicey. One time, she said, water carried away a scarecrow she had in her front yard.
Pounds says she wishes there was something the city could do about it.
“Everybody’s complaining about it,” she said.
But she added that she is not sure there’s much the city can do.
“I don’t know, sir,” she told FOX10 News. “We’ve been trying and trying. My husband used to work at Public Works, and we even tried to get it, but we couldn’t. We don’t know what to do.”