Medina Journal-Register — The recent wet weather throughout the county hit the hamlet of Knowlesville hard enough to bring its residents out in force to the Ridgeway Town Board meeting Monday night.
Roughly 20 homeowners voiced their concerns over how the town dealt with the heavy rain late last week.
Resident John Brown recalled how his week ended: wet.
“I had to call the fire department Wednesday because the creek was getting high and there was water in the cellar,” he said. “They got it fixed by Thursday morning, but I had to call them again Friday when it was raining again and they were there for (a long time).”
While the high waters did not completely ruin Brown’s house, there was significant damage as both his furnace and water heater stopped working.
His neighbor, Jeff Strand, said his house suffered damage, too, and the repairs must come from his own pocket.
“We’ve called about flood insurance but we can’t get it since we’re not in a designated flood zone,” he said. He noted how the Erie Canal will be filled soon, and another deluge could create a similar problem.
“Is it possible to pump water out a different way?” he asked.
Ridgeway Town Supervisor Brian Napoli said the town’s engineer has been contacted to help with creating a remedy to the water problem. He said there are also grants available to help homeowners fix some damage, but the process takes time. Napoli added he has been contact with some of the county’s soil and water personnel to determine how best to go about modifying the most vulnerable area when heavy rains hit.
Russell Schaefer, another resident, said the responsibility surely belongs with the town.
“It’s not a natural creek that’s overflowing; it’s a drainage ditch designed by Ridgeway and it’s not doing its job,” Schaefer said.
Brown added, “There should really be an emergency plan in effect for events like this.”
Trustee Paul Blajszczak opened the floor for suggestions so the town could move forward with as much input as possible from the hamlet’s residents.
“The main thing, for me, is that you’ve got to get the water away somehow,” Brown said. “When it rains an inch a day, it’s not too bad. But an inch an hour? We can’t take that.”
One person asked whether several fields that have put in drainage tiles have adversely affected how the rainwater drains. Trustee Jeffrey Toussaint said that while the tiles in several area fields could be a factor, he doubted it was the only factor.
Highway Superintendent Mark Goheen suggested that one factor could be a drainage spot near Culvert Road as part of the cause.
“There is all kinds of debris near the drainage area there,” Goheen said. “I think the culvert drain used to take the runoff, but it needs to be cleaned out and it’s a very labor-intensive job.”
Residents also voiced their concerns over the lengthy hours put in by Ridgeway’s fire personnel. A town fire official noted the department made three trips to the most waterlogged area on Presbyterian Street and spent a sizable amount of gas and hours there. He said the department is sympathetic to the residents’ plight, but another weather event similar to the one that just happened could lead to an alteration in next year’s budget.
Stephanie Schaefer praised the efforts of the fire department, and she also expressed concern for those in it whenever water becomes a hazard.
“The wind that came with the rains made whirlpools,” she said. “One slip, and it can lead to something really bad. I’m happy our community helps each other out, but it’s dangerous when it gets like that.” She said fixing the water problem would help alleviate a lot of the danger associated with pumping out overflowing ditches.
According to Napoli, fixing the water drainage issue is a long process. He said the quickest outcome will most likely involve a short term fix before a long term solution is realized. He said any resident with suggestions should write them down and submit them to the town office.