Indy homeowners asked to clear storm drains before next rainfall

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind - Officials at Citizens Energy Group are reminding Indianapolis residents to double check the storm drains on their streets and clear them of any debris that may be clogging them.

After strong winds blew down many trees and branches on Friday, many homeowners have been working to cut up limbs and tree trunks on their lawns.  Many piles of branches and other debris are now sitting curbside in many Indianapolis neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, the same branches that knocked out power to thousands of residents could cause more headaches if they are washed into storm drains by more rain this week.

“Probably, this debris is going to be washed back into those storm inlets,” said Citizens Energy Group spokesperson, Sarah Holsapple.  “And when those storm inlets get clogged, then there’s nowhere for that water to go.”

Holsapple said the Indianapolis stormwater system was designed and built to handle between one and one and a half inches of rain per hour.  In most parts of the city, during most rain events, keeping storm drains clear will prevent street flooding.

“Any time it storms more than that, when we get a two to five-year rain event, there’s going to be standing water in the streets,” Holsapple said.

We found plenty of storm drains clogged with leaves and other debris in several neighborhoods around the city.  Homeowners are asked to check the drains around their properties to make sure the drains are clear.

In some isolated areas, not even clear storm drains seem to be enough to prevent street flooding during rain storms.

Neighbors in the 5900 block of Winthrop Avenue spent Friday evening watching the water in their street reach a depth of roughly three feet.  The water quickly rain into yards, and into some homes.  A red 4-door sedan that was halfway submerged in water Friday had not yet moved Monday evening.

Homeowner Mitchell Kampman says he keeps two rakes in his front yard, constantly staying vigilant to keep the drain in front of his house clear of debris.

“But, the heavy amount of water that comes to this particular location, the storm drains can’t keep up,” Kampman said.

Kampman’s home sits at a low point in the road, where water seems to run downhill from both directions, meeting right in front of his house.  The 5900 block of Winthrop Avenue has two storm drains that sit directly across the street from one another.  He and several neighbors believe the two storm drains on their block simply can’t handle the rushing water from even average rainfall events.  They say their street and lawns flood four or five times every year.

Holsapple came to the neighborhood and met with Kampman about the recurring problem.  She says Citizens Energy will examine the issue on that street and decide whether further infrastructure improvements need to be made there.

“It’s something that Citizens needs to look into, because that’s certainly not acceptable,” Holsapple said.  “Nobody wants to live in conditions like that.”

While street flooding calls used to be handled by the Mayor’s Action Center, those calls are now taken by Citizens Energy Group, which maintains the stormwater system in Indianapolis.

That number to call is (317) 924-3311.

Residents can call the Mayor’s Action Center to report storm debris that needs to be picked up by DPW crews.  The Department of Public Works will have 11 crews picking up storm debris starting Tuesday morning through Friday.  Bundles of debris and limbs should be placed at the curb, away from roadways and sidewalks.  Trees that are chopped into sections will be hauled away when left on the curb as well.

DPW asks that tree limbs be separated from household debris.  The department says debris will be picked up in addition to regular garbage collection, within a week of it being reported.

You can report storm debris at the Mayor’s Action Center at (317) 327-4622.