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Columbia councilman responds to woman's home flooding problems

COLUMBIA, Mo. - A city councilman says he's still looking for the proper solution after ABC 17 News looked into a central city woman's flooding problems.

Josie Sullivan spoke to the city council Tuesday night about years worth of water damage to her home at the corner of Ash Street and Anderson Avenue. ABC 17 News met with her Monday, her basement sporting numerous, and some new, wall cracks.

Sullivan said rain water flows down the street and into her backyard. The city has offered a few solutions for her, but so far, none have ended the flooding she experiences in her home due to a heavy rainfall.

Ruffin said he first became aware of Sullivan's problems in November. Since then, he's worked with City Manager Mike Matthes to evaluate what's been done there, and what the city could possibly do to fix it.

"The city is really conscientious about dealing with these problems, but they are problems that just can't be remedied overnight or immediately," Ruffin told ABC 17 News. "Hers is unique, in terms of eleven years of coming back and forth, trying to get some solution."

Ruffin commended Sullivan for her documentation and initiative in trying to fix the issue. Ruffin said he and the city needed to do research on more than a decade of meetings with Sullivan and what work Columbia has done, and what recommendations its made since then.

Sullivan told the council that she's tried re-grading her property, and even once built a dry creek bed through her backyard to try and keep it from her basement. She recently spent $6,000 to fix up and defend her property from water damage. She now faces fixes of around $11,000 in her basement. She said a garage blocks water's path from making it to the nearby Flat Branch Creek, meaning her yard serves as the "drain" for the neighborhood.

"This has been nine years," she said Tuesday night. "Please, please help me."

Community Relations Director Steve Sapp said crews recently performed "grinding" on the pavement in front of Sullivan's house to improve stormwater flow in the neighborhood to the drains. He said it was not an issue of stormwater flowing onto the property, but instead an older home in need of maintenance.

The city has grappled with stormwater issues in central Columbia, particulary in Sullivan's neighborhood. The city council approved purchases of two homes near Again Street Park, an area where homes experience basement flooding and sewer backups during heavy rains. The city plans to demolish the homes in order to reach sewer and stormwater pipes there.

Sullivan asked the council to consider rebuilding the curb and sidewalk along her portion of Ash St. While city staff tried to lift her driveway years ago, she said they could not get it high enough that water would stay off her property.

Ruffin said he would consider supporting plans for a new curb and sidewalk, if that would truly solve the problem. He said the city most recently reviewed her situation in 2014, and decided then there was nothing more they could do to keep water away.

"Since then, I think the sidewalk and the curb and those areas more than they were in 2014, so perhaps there is something more now the city can do," Ruffin said.





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