Wichita prepares for street flooding

Bleckley St. in Wichita floods after heavy rain Monday July 6, 2015

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Whenever heavy rain comes to the Wichita area, everyone knows which places to avoid: the Bleckley drain in College Hill, multiple streets downtown, Pawnee and Broadway.

However, if heavy rain falls this weekend, city officials say they’re prepared.

“We will have crews on call, on stand by, 24 hours a day, through Tuesday,” said Jim Hardesty with Public Works.

Hardesty notes that it’s not just on days with heavy rain that you can expect to see people working the areas.

“The top priority is keeping the inlets as clean as possible that is something we do every single day whether it’s raining or not,” he said. “They’re vacuuming out the inlets. When we get runoff they tend to get debris in them, like limbs–all sorts of matter, basketballs,  you’d be surprised.”

There is one question that remains: why do these issues keep happening? He points to geography and aging infrastructure, but that’s not where the problem stops, it’s also a money issue. Take, for example, the Bleckley drain, fixing the infrastructure there would cost $15 million a full year and a half of his budget with Stormwater Management in Public Works and Utilities. Without extra funding, it’s simply not a feasible project.

Despite that, Hardesty says they work hard to get as many projects managed as they can because it can be quite the burden for people who deal with flooded streets.

“We are aware of some of those areas, or all of those areas, and I’m sure the people that live next to those areas are aware of them too,” he said. “Those are the areas we prioritize when we do get rains.”

 

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