Flood Follow-up

With one way in and out, recent flooding in the Happy Hollow community in Livingston caused some major problems.

"I had several four wheelers and everything else go floating off, even my dog house," says Irving Brown, a Happy Hollow resident.

Irvin Brown has lived in the area for 20 years. With damaged insulation, carpet and heating and air units, residents such as Brown are left with thousand of dollars of damaged and insurance to cover it.

"I really don't understand what's going on," says Patrick Harris. The city engineer says we do not live in a flood area. Our insurance agents say we do. The only thing we can do is to pay for a survey and we really don't have money for that."

Residents say problem is that the area which they live in has become somewhat of a "watershed."

Located right behind the Happy Hollow community there is a large opening underneath some train tracks. When the Succanooche River rises residents say the water pours into their yards. With this opening and two others similar to it further down the tracks, residents say Happy Hollow has become a storage area for the city's unwanted water. However, city officials say this is not the problem.

"I had the National Weather Service out of Birmingham here and National River Forecasting Center and they toured the railroad tracks, nearby bridge construction and other affected areas and they say those things did not cause the flooding in Happy Hollow. Instead they say it was because we received 10 inches of rain one week and two weeks later another seven inches of rain," says City Administrator Joe Chance.

Meanwhile, to deter flooding across the lone road leading into Happy Hollow, city officials say they plan to apply for grants to pay to raise the road to a higher elevation. This is something residents say they can't wait to see happen.

"I'm hopeful, but even a parrot can talk," says Brown. "I'm waiting to see what they actually do!"

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Reduce Flood and Water Damage in Your Home

  • Check your sump pump - Clean the sump pump and pit, and test the pump by pouring water into the pit. Consider having a spare submersible portable sump pump. Make sure the discharge hose delivers the water several feet away from the house to a well-drained area that slopes away from the house.

  • Move valuables to higher locations - Get items such as irreplaceable family photo albums, high school yearbooks, personal videotapes, tax records, insurance policies and household inventories off the bottom shelves in the lower level of your home.

  • Plug basement floor drains with removable grids - A flexible rubber ball about 1¼ times the inside diameter of the pipe can be wedged into the drain to create a tight seal. The pressure might be quite high so brace the ball securely with a 2X4 against the ceiling.

  • Cover basement floor drains with permanent grids - Place a partially inflated inner tube around the drain, and top it with a square or two of plywood (not particle board). The plywood must be larger across than the inner tube to cover it. Brace this in place just as with the ball on the drain. Be prepared for some seepage.

  • Reduce flooding from other drains - Unbolt toilets from the floor and plug the outlet pipe using the same procedure as for floor drains. Shower drains can be plugged this way too. Most washing machines and basement sinks have their drain connections about 3 feet above the floor so may not overflow if the water doesn't get that high. If necessary, these drains can be disconnected and capped or plugged with braced rubber balls.

  • Keep water out of window wells - Since windows can't withstand much pressure, build dams and contour the ground so water will naturally drain away from the house.

  • Prepare appliances for flooding - Shut off appliances at the fuse box or breaker panel. Put freezers, washer, dryers and other appliances up on wood or cement blocks to keep the motors above the water level. If high water is imminent and large appliances can't be moved, wrap them in polyethylene film, tying the film in place with cord or rope. The water will still get in, but most of the silt won't so cleanup will be easier.

  • Shut off electricity to areas of the home that might flood.

  • Move hazardous materials to higher locations - This includes paint, oil, cleaning supplies and other dangerous materials.

  • Plan an escape route - if certain roads or streets are known to flood easily. Where would you go if your home flooded a local shelter, a family member or friend's house?

  • Plan for pets - Pets aren't allowed in shelters due to health regulations. If left behind, stressed pets can damage your house, and their safety is at stake too.

  • Assemble supplies in case the electricity goes off - Gather water, food that requires no refrigeration or cooking, a non-electric can opener, a battery-powered radio and flashlight, extra batteries.

  • Assemble supplies for a possible evacuation - Gather water, nonperishable food, paper plates/cups and plastic utensils, extra clothing and shoes, blankets or sleeping bags, a first aid kit and prescription medications, cash and credit cards, important phone numbers, special items for babies and the elderly.

Source:www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu (North Dakota State University Web site) contributed to this report.