The torrential downpour on July 9 caused water problems across the area and particularly in Paden City. Now one Paden City resident fears her home is in danger because of erosion.
Donna Edgell lives on Broadway Street beside a small ravine that she has watched expand over the years. After the recent deluge, she says the northwest corner of her home is about six feet from the top of the ravine.
While the ravine is her property and she has maintained it over the years through mowing, cleaning out, and repositioning tires that were there when she bought the lots, she says the main cause of the problem is a culvert the city owns that carries runoff under Broadway Street.
This photo of the culvert under Broadway Street in Paden City was taken on July 17. On Tuesday Mayor John “Hoppy” Hopkins said the city has cleaned the culvert after the big water event on July 9.
She said it is not sufficiently carrying the water away from the area by her house. When there is higher water flow, like a couple weeks ago, the water swirls over her property, eroding it more, little by little. On July 9 the water got so high that it actually went over Broadway Street at that location.
The culvert under the road is probably about five feet below the road.
Edgell said she had a person who does excavation work come and look at the situation. He told her the culvert needs to be cleaned out. Paden City Mayor John "Hoppy" Hopkins said Tuesday that it has been cleaned since the July 9 incident. "The culvert was cleaned out and it is working," said Hopkins.
The excavator also told Edgell the best fix for the banks, to stop further erosion, would be digging back into the sides and placing gabion cages (wire cages filled with rocks) along the area. "He said you're talking about thousands of dollars," she said. Not only would this be cost prohibitive for Edgell, but he told her it could come with possible legal problems from the neighbors and city if it ended up affecting their property or street.
Hopkins said he has asked for a grant from Resource Conservation and Development to put riprap in the ravine. He believes he will receive $1,000 for the project that he says will cost about $1,700.
Edgell said on the night of July 9 that below Broadway Street water was shooting up four feet into the air from an area where that culvert water is carried.
Mayor Hopkins said he doesn't know who installed the culvert, when, or what its specifications were. "It probably should have been a larger culvert, but I don't know that," he said. Further, he said the city can't make it larger because it is the same size all the way to the Ohio River.
Edgell said she has called her insurance company and they say they can't do anything about it-citing the city is to blame. She has called state legislators and they say there isn't money available for work on private property. She has even contacted U.S. Senator Joe Manchin's office.
"Everybody I talk to is a let down," said Edgell. "I'm just out there trying for somebody to give me some help."
While the July 9 rain exacerbated the problem, this is not a new situation. Edgell said four years ago she had city officials up there to look at the situation, but nothing happened. Edgell said she talked to then Mayor Bill Fox about the situation in 2011 and 2012. According to her, at that time he said it would be taken care of. Hopkins looked at it after he was elected and said he would try to get some grant money for it.
She finally resorted to attending the Paden City Council meeting on July 1, one week before the big rain. She had realized the bank was giving way when she was weedeating the area in the previous month.
"I can never sell my home," laments a nearly hopeless Edgell. She says she will only leave her family a problem, not an asset as she had planned.
Besides the erosion damage, on July 9 the water swirled so high that it came up through the floor drain of her garage, putting water in her garage, utility room, washroom, and crawl space.
"These things happen," said Hopkins of water runoff issues, particularly during heavy rain events. He added that it's not like they're not trying to better the city. He noted they are working on getting storm sewers out of the sanitary sewers, although that would not affect this situation.