Pay Attention to Your Storm Drains

by Lorraine Cherry, TMCC Environmental Chair The Memorial Day storms resulted in flooding for many homes in Timbergrove. Unlike Tropical Storm Allison, White Oak Bayou stayed in its banks this time. Instead, a lot of the damage that occurred was from street flooding with water backing up from the storm drains.

The storm drains in our streets are an integral part of the flood control infrastructure in Houston.  They are designed to route rain runoff into large pipes that lead directly to major ditches, bayous, and other waterways, which ultimately empty into Galveston Bay.

To serve their function in flood mitigation, storm drains must be kept clear. Nothing but storm water should ever go down the drains. Lawn clippings, leaves, and other debris often clump, contributing to flooding in our neighborhood.

While you may never blow yard clippings down your storm drains, are you sure that your yard crews don’t? How about the yard crews that your neighbors use? Even if they don’t blow clippings directly down the drains, do they stack the bagged clippings right on the curb for days at a time where a heavy rain can wash them directly into the storm drain?  It’s worth the trouble to make sure that they stop doing this.

If you have never seen the city come out and clean your storm drain or if you believe that your drains are not working as well as they should, make a call to 311 to have someone come out and check. During the heavy rains that came with Hurricane Ike in 2008, the storm drain across from our house started backing up almost immediately and water almost got to our front door. We called the city the next week and had it cleaned out (and have done every year since), and have never had another problem with it.

Pay attention to your storm drains. It can make that critical bit of difference when the next big rains come.