120-pound concrete mass pulled from Aberdeen storm drain

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Aberdeen officials think they found the reason for severe flooding earlier this year near Market and Baltimore streets in the city – a 120-pound concrete block.

After a council meeting over the summer, when two residents complained of flooding in their neighborhood, public works employees used their camera truck to look underground into the city’s storm drain pipes, public works director Kyle Torster told the Aberdeen City Council members at their meeting Monday night.

Council members Sandra Landbeck and Melvin Taylor did not attend.

The camera found a “conglomeration” of concrete block, gravel and stone inside a pipe, Torster said.

The largest piece of concrete measured about 2 ½ feet wide and 1 ½ feet tall, and “just as wide,” Eric Wilson, a city wastewater manager, said Tuesday.

It was “enough to cause significant blockage,” Torster told the council Monday.

Scott Roberts, a camera technician for the public works department, climbed down into the drain, put some straps around it and manually pulled it out of the drain, he said.

“There were some larger stones, gravel, grit, bricks, stuff backed up behind it that created even more blockage in the area,” Roberts said.

The public works staff does not know how the concrete got there, but said it could have been one or a combination of a number of things: a contractor washing out equipment or a homeowner pouring out concrete. It formed over time, as pieces pick up and move and congeal over time, Torster said.

The city had been looking into complaints of flooding earlier this summer, then two significant storms, with heavy, intense rains in a short period of time, pounded Aberdeen in the span of two weeks.

“The amount of rain we received was more than what the storm drain system could handle,” regardless of the whether it was blocked, Torster said. “In both storms, the amount of rain exceeded what the drains could handle.”

“We will monitor the area during future rains,” Torster said. “The bottom line is, from our perspective, once we’ve done the maintenance, it won’t prevent flash floods, but when it does occur, the drains will allow water to be carried away without any blockage. It will lessen the impact.”

While Torster pointed out that putting things in storm drains that don’t belong have serious impacts, Aberdeen Mayor Patrick McGrady said it shows how the city responds.

“When people make a complaint, the city staff looks into it and fixes it,” McGrady said. “But we don’t know about it unless you tell us.”

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