People want answers for repeat flooding in central El Paso
POSTED: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - 10:46pm
UPDATED: Thursday, September 12, 2013 - 5:28pm
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — Overnight rain caused havoc Wednesday for drivers on I-10, leaving only one lane open westbound around Cotton and Piedras. The bigger problem is that drivers have seen it happen before.
"Disappointed you know because it's like I can't get to my husband who had a heart attack and I can't get over there," said a worried El Paso resident Jeanette Garcia. “If this happened before, from experience, something should be done."
Cars were parked on the highway, with nowhere to go.
"I'm late for work already and it just isn't the best of days," said a stranded commuter.
Meanwhile, crews worked to drain water from a central El Paso storm water pond meant to alleviate flooding.
El Paso Water Utility officials say the central El Paso area is a big problem, but the solution is not going to happen overnight. El Paso is just a few years into building it's own storm water system, which includes ponds, drains and pumps in the central area called the Cebada Project. Part of the problem is the drainage pipes become clogged with debris and trash. But more importantly, when it rains, the water mainly flows to one area.
"With the rain we got last night, that's a lot to funnel down and it meets here and gets trapped," said El Paso Water Utilities Spokesperson Christina Montoya, as she pointed to a map of the area.
The water gets trapped into the Gateway Pond, the only pond, for now, that is catching the rain that travels down the mountainsides leading right into central El Paso area.
Montoya asks for people's patience and understanding. The El Paso Water Utility was formed in 2008 and shortly after, the entity began planning and building the storm water master plan.
"We have made some improvements and there's more to be done. It's just going to take more time," said Montoya.
Two more ponds are in progress near the top of the mountainsides to catch the running water. But for now, crews will have to do their best to pump the pond as fast as they can, before it overflows.
Not everyone is upset about the problem.
Cindy Ramos Davidson, the CEO of El Paso Hispanic Chamber, located right in the middle of the flooding, says she still welcomes the rain and always has a plan.
"We are not at all dismayed about the rain at all. Bring your rain boots, bring your shovel," said Ramos-Davidson.
She says until the city's storm water master plan is complete, all anyone can do is prepare as best they can.