City workers replacing grates in effort to combat flooding

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By Stephen Lega

Late last month, city employees removed debris from a collapsed section of the storm sewer line at the intersection of Main Street and South Spalding Avenue as part of the effort to reduce flooding in downtown Lebanon.
In spite of their efforts, some downtown businesses still experienced flooding as a result of an Aug. 11 rainstorm.
City Administrator John O. Thomas said Lebanon received 2.4 inches of rain in 22 minutes during that storm. That's a rate of more than 6.5 inches per hour.
He added that the city is in the process of implementing the recommendations of O'Brien and Gere Engineers, which conducted a seven-month study of the city's storm sewer system after multiple storms caused flooding in downtown businesses last year.
"We will work in a timely manner," Thomas said.
He estimated that the work that has been done so far has cost between $40,000 and $50,000.
Last week, city workers redid the curbing on South Spalding Avenue so that new storm grates could be installed. Monday, the city started the process of putting in five of those grates.
Thomas and Lebanon Public Works Director Terry Bland said the rainwater was flowing so quickly during the heaviest part of the Aug. 11 storm that the water ran over the grates rather than draining into them.
Thomas said the water drained within a matter of minutes after the rain subsided, which he said was a sign that the sewer system was not filled to capacity.
According to Bland, the new storm grates have bigger openings with a downward slope, which is designed to pull more water into the storm sewer. The new grates also have an opening along the side of the curb to provide another way for water to get into the system.
Gloria Benningfield owns Shear Delite, one of the businesses on South Spalding Avenue that has been affected by flooding for years. She said she knows the city workers are trying hard to fix the problem.
"We're praying it's going to work. We're pulling for them," she said.
Thomas said he did receive an email from a property owner on West Main Street, which has also experienced the effects of the flooding. He said he understood their frustration, but the city would continue its systemic approach to addressing the problem.
"We will be on that part of town just as soon as we can," he said.
On Monday, city workers did remove some debris from a section of the storm sewers running under Proctor Knott Avenue, north of Main Street.
"What we're doing is helping," Bland said. "We're just not done yet."