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Fairview Park neighbors, leaders discuss persistent flooding issues at town hall meeting

More than 100 homeowners demand a permanent solution to chronic flooding
wft flood.jpg
Posted at 6:21 PM, Oct 11, 2023

FAIRVIEW PARK, Ohio — More than 100 homeowners in Fairview Park called for a long-term solution to persistent flooding issues during a packed town hall meeting on Wednesday.

Residents asked Fairview Park Mayor Patrick Cooney about regional solutions to the flooding problems and wondered if relatively new restrictors installed on some storm sewer openings are as effective as sandbags in slowing the flow of large amounts of stormwater, keeping the water on city streets and away from basements,

“All that stuff from our lives that we’re losing because somehow we’re not keeping all the water in the street," said one homeowner. “So basically, you’re making it a combination sewer, is what you’re telling me, yes, because if you don’t have an invert plate, it’s going to infiltrate your sanitary.”

Elizabeth Johnson, who also attended the meeting, told News 5 that the chronic flooding will continue to hurt her property value until a significant storm sewer upgrade can be funded.

“Water came up to the first step of my basement steps; our house is completely a mess in the basement, mold and mildew, all my wood furniture got ruined,” Johnson said. “But my basement still stinks, my house stinks, I want to move, but I don’t think I’m going to get the same value.”


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Meanwhile, some neighbors said they feel like they’re constantly watching for rain.

“It’s on your mind all night long. It’s usually at night. So you’re getting up in the middle of the night to check how much water you have in your basement,” said Sherry Kerr.

Kerr has lived in the same Fairview Park neighborhood for 25 years and said her family and many of her neighbors deal with flooding in their basements regularly.

“It’s gotten worse and worse. At first, it was just a few people having issues, and now it’s everybody,” she said.

Kerr considers herself lucky because the basement of her century-old home sits higher than some neighbors. When six inches of water flooded her home during strong storms late this summer, others saw several feet of water.

“You can tell just by what was on people’s tree lawns… from couches to beds to furniture,” said Chris Theis.

The longtime resident hadn’t experienced much flooding until recently. With weeks in July and August, water flooded his newly finished basement twice.

“I’m kind of getting used to it, keeping stuff elevated,” Theis said. “I’ve got refrigerators and stuff on skids, so it’s a little more elevated for the next time. I’m sure there will be [a next time].”

Others have previously told News 5 that flooding feels inevitable.

“I don’t think anybody should have to live like that,” one woman told News 5 Investigator Joe Pagonakis in early September.

At that time, the city said it was working to get enough funding to repair its aging infrastructure, and it had recently purchased a cleaning machine.

Wednesday, News 5 saw the sewer jet clearing debris from lines on West 227th Street.

“While we’re out there, we’re also looking to see if there are damages to lines that we can repair,” Mayor Patrick Cooney said.

He explained the city is repairing and updating pumps and sewer lines as money becomes available. He hopes to see more collaboration between the west side suburbs so they can better leverage state and federal funding to update wastewater treatment infrastructure.

Cooney also encourages residents to continue reporting issues so the city can gauge the scope and location of flooding problems.

“It’s going to take time. We have been working on it. We’re going to continue to work on it. We need their help,” he said.

Neighbors like Kerr said the sight of the sewer jet on her street was an encouraging sign, but she thinks the issues could have been prioritized sooner.

“They’ve had enough years of knowing this problem existed to be able to fix the problem or have had it fixed,” she said.

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