Stormwater system unable to keep up with wet weather

by: COURTESY OF COLUMBIA RIVER FIRE & RESCUE - Columbia River Fire & Rescue crews respond to flooding outside the Columbia Funeral Home & Cremation Center Sunday, May 18.Several St. Helens businesses and homes reported flooding Sunday, May 18, as heavy rains lashed the region.

Chief Jay Tappan of Columbia River Fire & Rescue said his agency responded to five incidents, including flooding in the showroom of car dealership Emmert Motors and at least a foot of water on the roadway and parking lot at Columbia Funeral Home & Cremation Center.

Tappan blamed the intensity of the rainfall Sunday for the flooding.

“It just overwhelmed the stormwater system,” said Tappan, adding, “We’re used to constant rain, but not big spurts like that.”

St. Helens Public Works Supervisor Neal Sheppeard agreed, calling the weather event Sunday “a lot of rain in a short period of time.”

According to emergency dispatcher notes shared with the Spotlight, at least one home was flooded by water coming from a bathtub and sinks.

When storm sewers are overloaded, water can rise from the plumbing to flood basements and buildings.

Tappan said CRF&R crews used small “trash pumps” to remove standing water.

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