JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Several inches of rain are expected in the Region 8 viewing area over the next 36 hours and many cities have been preparing for Mother Nature's wrath. According to Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin, all city street employees have been pulled from their regular duties to clean out ditches and culvers. Perrin said most residents have told him at public meetings that drainage is the most important issue the city needs to resolve.
"They've pulled all the hot spots off of those and they go by and look to see if any of those ditches are needs to be cleaned out of if any of the storm drains need to be cleaned out," said Perrin. "That's basically what they're doing. Just making sure they've got everything cleaned out to where that water will flow."
Perrin said the city's Stormwater Management Board approved two contractors to look at sites for possible retention ponds. He said one retention pond is currently under construction.
"It's already been proven the last two times that when we started putting all this GPS on those maps, we really didn't know, we knew where some of the hot spots were, but now we know where almost a majority of them are," said Perrin. "Possibly a little bit of overtime because of these people are going to be at all those hot spots that you're talking about. and you're right, they're diverting from one job they'd be doing, the construction work over to just absolutely looking to see what we should be doing and they may have to call a crew off another job to come over to get that fixed."
Perrin said he met with the Army Corps of Engineers to discuss a feasibility study on all city ditches and drains. He said a study of the city's overall drainage system could take as long as 18 months.
"We're going to study a particular area and stop and then go for funding for that particular area and then go on, rather than trying to study the entire city," said Perrin.
Jason Hilliard, who has been an employee on the street department for nine years, said his job is to check ditches and clean them if necessary when heavy rain is expected.
"A lot of times if I go to one of these hot spots I might find just tree limbs of something just blocking the tile," said Hilliard. "Anything from basketball goals to swimming pools, those plastic swimming pools, are in the ditch blocking them up."
Hilliard said he's had to use heavy machinery to remove automotive parts from ditches.
"I'll check every one of them. I usually just run the major hot spots on the drainage map but a lot of times if we're shorthanded I'll look at the individual drainage on every street," said Hilliard. "I'm just checking under the tiles and stuff and since we've got these covers, we want to make sure their opened up and since we had a couple of tree limbs here, we want to make sure the water flows."
"It does help them out because we're trying to keep the water flowing at least until it gets off but if we get these gully washers, like five inch rains that come in, you can't do anything about that. You got to let the water runoff itself," said Hilliard.