After a number of residents shared concerns Tuesday at the Beckley Common Council meeting, the complaints continued Wednesday morning at the Beckley Sanitary Board (BSB) meeting.
BSB members listened to residents impacted by the torrential rains July 3 which flooded Robert C. Byrd Drive homes, businesses and caused the collapse of a business' parking lot.
Douglas Sayre, who owns property on Sisson Street, spoke at Tuesday's council meeting as well as at the BSB about what he called a "constant" problem.
"We suffered quite a bit of damage with the water on July 3," Sayre said.
Also speaking to the BSB was Jason Sloan, who owns the building that houses Old Colony Realtors on Robert C. Byrd Drive. The rainfall and subsequent flooding caused the parking lot to collapse when he drove his truck on it July 3.
Thanking members of the BSB for their response, Sloan said along with major work to his parking lot, the building will need new drywall and flooring.
Jamie Carr, who operates Valley Drive Barber Shop which sits next to Sloan's property, spoke on the damage caused to her shop and surrounding buildings.
"It ruined everything in both garages, everything downstairs and we've finally got the shop gutted out," Carr said.
According to the barber, after evacuating her mother from the property, water reached as high as 5 feet.
Carr, whose grandfather first barbered on the property before her mother took over, said flooding in that area is a fairly recent occurrence. She said she has been at the location for approximately 45 years.
"In all that time that I worked there, 2013 was a flood and 2016 was a flood," she said. "The only time we were flooded."
Carr's husband Marvin told the BSB about the damage done to a property on Ellison Avenue that they own and where his daughter currently resides. According to Marvin, the family has owned the Ellison Avenue home for 15 years and in those years, it has flooded nine times.
Carr said that during the most recent flooding event, 18 inches of water filled the property's basement. He pointed toward a state-owned vacant lot above the home which he called a swamp.
"It fills up and then floods her basement and her yard," he said.
While the Robert C. Byrd area of Beckley gets most of the spotlight for city flooding, it wasn't the only area that was brought up during Wednesday's BSB meeting.
Beatrice Pannell-Johnson, who is a lifelong resident of Hunter Street, noted the flooding that happens in East Beckley.
"We see this when it rains," Pannell-Johnson said. "Maybe, on average, about every time it rains when it rains any period of time."
Eugene Nabors, who lives across the street from Pannell-Johnson, told the BSB of his concerns of runoff water on the streets, particularly in winter when he said it forms sheets of inches-thick ice.
Nabors also told the BSB that he has a steady stream of water flowing through his property, down his driveway and out into the street three or four days after heavy rain.
For Pannell-Johnson, a teacher, the time is now for something to be done, insisting that studying the problem again won't solve anything.
"Well, study time is over," she said. "It's time to do something. Something has got to be done about the water."
A beleaguered Jeremiah Johnson, the BSB's general manager, told the board and the audience that his team has issued 63 work orders on an area that sits generally over downtown Beckley.
Speaking on the East Beckley and Ellison Avenue issues, Johnson said an upcoming capital improvement program will possibly include tackling those issues.
"(The) infrastructure is old," Johnson said. "The infrastructure needs to be replaced."
Johnson also described in detail the load of the July 3 storm put on the aging system.
According to the general manager, the BSB's office rain gauge recorded 3 inches of rain in less than two hours; a stormwater sensor gauge behind the Exxon on Robert C. Byrd Drive rose over 38 inches in 12 minutes; and the BSB's Ewart Avenue iPod rose over 5 feet.
Cautioning against a debate on climate change when the issue was brought up, Johnson did point to water professionals around the country responding to different scenarios than they did in the past. He specifically pointed to the Louisville, Ky., where they are designing water infrastructure to meet projected 2050 water loads.
With 16 years with the board, Johnson said there has been a shift locally — the previous norm was around 40 inches of rain a year for Beckley.
"These days, pretty consistently, we're measuring in Beckley over 50 inches of rainfall (per year)," Johnson said.
Beckley Mayor Rob Rappold agreed with Johnson on the issue with aged infrastructure, adding the layer of limited funds for new infrastructure to the mix.
Pointing to the upcoming capital improvement plan, Rappold said that he is very anxious to have in hand the Thrasher Engineering plan, which he said would help prioritize the city's infrastructure problems.
Rappold suggested that there will be a public meeting on the new plan, adding that the whole situation was frustrating.
"It's a tough situation," the mayor said.
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