BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Willie Peterson is seeking answers about flooding in his neighborhood on Norwood Boulevard. CBS 42’s Sherri Jackson connected Peterson with City Council Member J.T. Moore on Moore’s first day in office to talk about the issues.
The widespread flashflooding in Birmingham’s Historic Norwood Community during the first week of October is not the norm for that area. But excessive flooding when it rain is not uncommon to see for people living in the 2900 block of Norwood Boulevard.
Willie Petersen has lived on that section of Norwood Boulevard for 29 years. He says he understands the historic rainfall from October 6, but “this is any rainfall,” Peterson said. Even when, “it’s not a big, rain it floods and it gets stopped up.” The drain, he said pointing to a nearby pipe, “they won’t clean. And it’s just messed up. And, all of it has been reported. I have reported it my neighbor has reported it.”
His neighbor Scarlett Gooden has lived on Norwood Boulevard for 49 years. She can remember when it never flooded and what she’s noticed over the last 20 years. “The problem is the infrastructure under the ground. I don’t know if they’ve got the money to dig, but they’re going to have to dig this up and put new pipes through here.”
CBS 42 began investigating the issue after Willie Peterson called the Your Voice Your Station phone bank. After our inquiry we were told the city is currently completing design plans for drainage issues between the 2900 and 2800 block of Norwood Boulevard.
People living on the even side of the boulevard in the 2900 block may not have known it, but according to City of Birmingham Communications Director Rick Journey the city has been investigating the flooding problem for about 18 months. He said they have completed about 90 percent of the design phase of a solution to the flooding.
Journey told CBS 42 these major capitol projects can take two years to complete. This particular project is known as the 2900 Norwood Boulevard Storm Sewer Improvements.
According to the City of Birmingham the scope of the work includes: replacement of “approximately 35 linear feet of existing 15″ storm sewer with 35 linear feet of 18″ reinforced concrete storm sewer. It will also replace 2 existing inlets, connect the new pipe to an existing 48″ x 76″ brick ring sewer with a new manhole or junction box and replace all disturbed curb and gutter and existing pavement with new curb and gutter and pavement.”
When we asked why people who’ve lived in that block of Norwood Boulevard where the flooding occurs have not been made aware of the plans to fix the problem we were told a city representative would be more than happy to sit down and talk with them. Journey said, “typically we encourage residents to call 3-1-1 if they have a problem.” Once a problem is reported callers receive a case number to follow the progress of getting problems resolved.
Newly elected District Four City Councilor J.T. Moore encourages people to attend Neighborhood Association meetings. The Neighborhood Presidents work directly with Community Resource Representatives in the city to address neighbors concerns too. Norwood Neighborhood Association President Barbara Goudy said she just met their, CRR Andre Watson this week. She said they are scheduled to meet next week to discuss flooding in the 2900 block of Norwood Boulevard.
The lack of communication for the two families we spoke to who live in the affected area has contributed their frustration. “I just don’t understand why everybody that’s passed by, even the city workers, they know this is going on, know we’re having this problem and won’t do nothing! That’s my problem,” Mr. Peterson said.
Councilor Moore, who met with Willie Peterson to see the problem on Norwood Boulevard the day he was sworn in to office said, “I think it’s important for me especially as a city councilor a lot time interfacing with the community, that I tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly and keep you updated about what the status of this challenge is. A lot of time the challenges that we face could be some that takes a long time to address because it took a long time to get to this point.”
He took down Mr. Peterson’s cell phone number and promised that his office would follow up in 30 days to share what he’s learned about the city’s response to the flooding on Norwood Boulevard.
Right now, it is unclear on when repairs will be made for the 2900 Norwood Boulevard Storm Sewer Improvement. Currently the estimated cost of repairs is $400,000. Rick Journey said, “once the design phase is complete they’ll have a finalized target on the cost and then you’ll have multiple departments will figure out how to fund it.” That funding could come from any number of sources including bonds or Alabama’s Gas tax for instance.
Sherri Jackson’s full Your Voice Your Station can be watched in the video player above.