‘It’s like a winter wonderland’: Cars trapped in ice because of drainage issues on Irvington street

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Drainage problems on an Irvington road are forcing home owners to pry their cars from a sheet of ice.

When it rains, the dead-end of Berry Avenue becomes a pond. Once the cold weather swoops in, any cars left in the flooding zone are frozen to the road.

“I woke up one morning, and it was a work morning, my car was absolutely stuck," homeowner Katie Munn said of her vehicle. “I tried all day to get my car out, but eventually I had to pay to get it towed. They had to take a tow truck, and actually park a pretty long ways down the street, and pull me out.”

The Indianapolis Department of Public Works (DPW) said the developer did not include stormwater infrastructure.  Munn reached out to the Mayor's Action Center, who directed her to inspectors with Citizens Energy.  The company discovered that the road has no drainage, and they relayed that information to the engineers with DPW.

“The water was reaching my doorsill, and it was actually starting to come in my car," Munn said. “We have a neighbor who has graciously allowed us to park in front of her house. It kind of puts everybody else off if I have to park in front of somebody else's spot.”

DPW is looking into the problem, but their engineers work through a priority list. A greater urgency is given to areas of great impact including major thoroughfares and a larger number of people affected.  This helps DPW spend less public funds, while providing the most public benefit.  It also means small streets like Berry Avenue can fall to the bottom of the list, and have a longer wait time for action.

DPW suggests that homeowners with drainage issues like this, reach out to the Marion County Soil and Water Conservation District (MCSWCD).  The state agency provides free surveys for drainage issues.  They don't have the budget to make the changes, but they can provide a valuable assessment of the problems, create a game plan, and direct neighbors toward the contractors who can fix the issue.

“They are going to have to find an outlet for their water leaving their property," MCSWCD District Manager John Hazlett said. "Usually that is going to be an outside swale, or an inlet in the street.”

We connected neighbors to the Conservation District for help, however, DPW said it won't be as simple as laying a few pipes, and connecting them to another drainage system. Nearby storm drainage infrastructure leads into the sanitary sewer system, which means, there could be an overload to the system with more water being added.  DPW said if that overload occurs, sewage could end up in local rivers.  They want to avoid that hazardous scenario.  In addition to inlets, MCSWCD said homeowners in situations like this, can also build a nearby rain garden with deep-rooted native plants. These roots can reach down and break up Marion County's tight clay soil.  This will lead to more openings for the ground to soak up water, leaving less in the street.

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