PARMA, Ohio — More than 200 frustrated homeowners in Parma attended a special meeting Wednesday night to discuss ongoing flooding issues in the city.
“Things have got to change, we’re terrified when it rains,” said Sandie Spencer.
Torrential rain on July 5 dumped between 4.1 and 5.5 inches of rain on the area; flooding hundreds of homes. Even areas that normally don’t flood were impacted by the flash flooding.
“It really overloaded the system,” said Mayor Tim DeGeeter.
However, some residents say, their neighborhoods routinely flood and they have experienced devastating losses over the years. So much so, at least two homes on Stormes Drive foundations finally gave way and are no longer inhabitable.
Every time it rains Sandie Spencer says, she worries and wonders if her parents house on Stormes Drive is next.
“Four floods in the last four years, over 2 ft to 3 ft of water, it’s ridiculous, losing appliances, losing everything,” said Spencer, “How many more floods will my parents house take?!”
“I don’t know what to do anymore every time it rains I’m not sleeping,” said C.J. Scarcipino whose house looked like Niagra Falls and has flooded three times in a year, “It’s devastating not only financial by the physical emotional effect, it affects your relationships at home it affects everything.”
At the meeting city leaders and representatives from the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District answered questions and explained in detail some of the issues in Parma.
They include, but are not limited to the location and watershed proximity, runoff off from neighboring cities, an older infrastructure and common trenches, where the sewer, storm and sanitary systems are all in the same trench.
A three year study by NEORSD examining the issues will be completed this year.
“They’ve been doing this study, we’ve been implementing some plans trying to take corrective action,” said Mayor DeGeeter, “But we are not waiting until the study is completed to address issues.”
In fact in recent years the city invested $31.5 million on maintaining, jetting and telescoping sewer lines and millions more on other infrastructure projects, culvert repairs, storm line repairs and repairing catch basins.
But there is much more to do and they say it is a regional problem.
Mayor DeGeeter told residents at the meeting,”We take this serious and understand your frustrations, the system was built long ago, we just need to find more retention in places so it doesn’t overwhelm the system.”
The city currently has five applications pending with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and leaders will be traveling to Buffalo to meet with them and hopefully speed up the process. They’re also working with the county public works department and seeking federal grants.
They’re asking homeowners to complete assessment forms not only to help with relief efforts but to help them figure out the problem.
But some homeowners say they’ve heard it before, while their houses keep flooding.
“It’s the same song and dance,” said Scarcipino, “Meanwhile we’re homeless in our own home.”