We saw lots of flooding this week after the ten inches of rain that soaked the region. But do you know what you can do to help prevent street flooding? There are three basic types of floods: storm surge from tropical storms and hurricanes; tidal flooding from natural influences; and heavy rains that overwhelm the municipal stormwater system. Since there’s not much we can do to prevent tidal or storm flooding, it’s crucial to prevent the stormwater system from becoming overwhelmed. To do so, our neighborhoods must be committed to: (1) reducing the amount of rain that goes down the storm drain and (2) giving stormwater runoff a clear path to flow through on its way through the system.
Just think of it like the drain in your kitchen sink: If you poured a cup of water into the sink it would drain in seconds, right? But what about a 5 gallon bucket of water? The sink isn’t able to process 5 gallons of water as quickly as a cup of water. This, in a nutshell, is what happens when too much rain falls on hard surfaces (i.e. roofs, sidewalks, roadways, parking lots, etc.) and runs off into the stormwater system. Finding other ways to manage stormwater runoff is so important to flood prevention.
Now, imagine you’re back at your sink only this time the drain is clogged. When you pour the cup of water into the sink it will not drain as quickly as before. And it would empty even slower with 5 gallons of water! Yard waste like grass clippings and fallen leaves as well as everyday litter are frequent offenders for clogs in the stormwater system that contribute to flooding.
Here’s what you can do to take action against street flooding in your community:
- Install a rain barrel to capture rainwater that can be used for outdoor watering.
- Divert gutters towards rain gardens, flower beds and grassy areas so water has a chance to soak up.
- Plant more flowers and trees – they soak up water better than turf grass, bare spots and concrete!
- Support green infrastructure projects in your community that will reduce both flooding and water pollution.
- Keep your gutters and downspouts clean and free flowing.
- Don’t litter and pickup trash around your community – even if it isn’t yours.
- Keep your roadside curb and ditch clear of litter and overgrown vegetation.
- Only put rain down the drain. Grass clippings and fallen leaves cause troublesome clogs in storm drains, pipes and ditches.