Wetlands project leaves Akron yards and homes flooded

AKRON, Ohio - Yards and homes of people living in one Akron neighborhood have been flooded by a nearby wetlands project for months, and the city said it still isn't sure why.

Breesha Taylor's backyard looks and sounds like a wildlife preserve.

"We got geese, ducks, groundhogs, raccoons, snakes. You name it, we got it," Taylor said.

Floodwater several feet deep that covers her lawn and driveway has also brought trash, including a used syringe that washed in Wednesday. And it hasn't receded.

"I got seven grandkids, and I'm just glad I found it, and they didn't," Taylor said.

She's among more than a dozen homeowners along Linwood Avenue and Hackberry Street whose properties have been plagued by flooding since January, in some cases leaving basements soggy and foundations in jeopardy.

"I built sandbags around to keep a dike," John Penson said of his basement flooding. "I can't sleep at night because every three hours I have to get up in the middle of the night and then pump water out."

Sump pumps run nonstop at Lorie Saiben's home. She said she spent $5,000 on repairs to stop water from pouring in through her basement floor.

"There was no trying to clean it up because the water was coming in so fast, you couldn't clean it up," Saiben said.

Neighbors said the trouble started when the City of Akron began its $2.5 million Wilbeth Wetlands project. Crews removed a storm sewer, replacing it with a natural channel and retention pond.

City of Akron Press Secretary Ellen Lander Nischt sent Fox 8 News a statement saying the City has received numerous complaints and recognizes the importance of this issue. She provided a letter sent to affected residents last month to let them know city officials were conducting a thorough investigation.

"The City is aware of the issue and has been investigating possible causes and potential solutions for several weeks. The City has contracted with independent engineering consultants to investigate the situation," Lander Nischt said.

"It is unclear at this time why the water in this historically low area is not receding as it has done in the past. An exceptionally wet spring has not helped."

Neighbors said they have experienced past flooding after heavy rains, but it typically recedes within about two days. Some said they feel their concerns are falling on deaf ears and that the city is not acting urgently enough to resolve the problem.

"It's not like we're out to get the city. We just want them to take responsibility for what they did, and for us not to suffer. Because we've suffered enough."

City officials did not provide a time frame for a solution.