Op-Ed

‘Does my neighborhood not matter?’ When will city fix chronic street flooding?

During recent flooding on Ohio Street, paramedics had to wade in ankle deep water in order to attend to a medical emergency.
During recent flooding on Ohio Street, paramedics had to wade in ankle deep water in order to attend to a medical emergency. Photo provided

How is that Lexington can spend umpteen millions of dollars to unearth a long-ago buried creek but it can’t, or won’t, spend the money to correct a longstanding flooding problem in my neighborhood?

I live at the corner of East Third and Ohio streets and every time it rains hard, and I do mean every time, Ohio Street looks more like the Ohio River. It happened again last Monday afternoon.

The storm drains were no match for the volume of water rushing down Ohio toward Third. Within minutes, the street was flooded with six to eight inches of moving water. Sidewalks were underwater. There was a medical emergency at a neighboring business and paramedics had to wade in ankle deep water in order to attend to the emergency. The water was so deep that a police cruiser’s engine stalled as the officer attempted to drive through it.

To quote a famous line from the 1976 movie Network, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

If this rapid flooding is capable of stalling a police vehicle, then imagine what it does to pedestrian traffic. The street becomes impassable. I’m not going to play the race card but I firmly believe that if this problem existed in a more affluent neighborhood, it would have been corrected long ago. This flooding problem isn’t new. It has existed for all of the 25 years I’ve lived at this intersection.

Heavy rain caused flooding and temporary closings of portions of some Lexington roads Wednesday. Additional bouts of heavy rain could cause additional street flooding during the day.

So I have a question for Mayor Linda Gorton and members of the Urban County Council: Does my neighborhood not matter? If you can spend millions to pay landowners not to develop their land, then why can’t you fix the flooding problem in my neighborhood? Is my neighborhood not worthy of the same attention you give wealthy land barons?

There’s another line in the movie Network that I think is appropriate in this situation: “I’m a human being, God damn it. My life has value.”

Lexington, stop devaluing my life and my neighborhood. Mayor Gorton, the ball is in your court.

Thomas Tolliver is a 25-year resident of the East End, where he is active on several fronts.

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