Storm drains cleared of snow in effort to prevent flooding

Posted: 11:46 AM EST Feb 19, 2014   Updated: 6:12 PM EST Feb 19, 2014
Storm drains cleared

The race is on for road crews in Reading, preparing for the threat of flooding.

The city's public works department is bracing for warmer temperatures. Crews have been working to remove thick ice and piles of snow covering storm drains across the city for fear of flooding.

"The water could reach curb level and go up over pavements so we want to get the water in the basin and out of that area," said Ralph Johnson, the acting director of public works.

Wednesday morning's rainfall already flooded the intersection at South 4th and Spruce streets, and more rain could be coming.

Jorge Colon chopped away at ice while cars splashed him with water as he tried to open the drain outside The King Style Barber Shop.

"You see a lot of people falling and a lot of them don't want to come through because they don't want to step in the water," said Colon.

Workers shoveled and scraped and tried to give the melting snow a place to drain.

"We're focusing on areas we know that are prone to localized flooding," said Johnson.

Those spots include the 400 block of Upland Avenue and at North 6th and Washington streets, but there are 3,500 storm drains across the city. Crews worked as fast as they could, but flooding will happen before they reach every one. Now, officials have called on the public for help.

"One thing we are asking neighbors to do, and people with catch basins near their home, if they can help us and open them up that would be greatly appreciated," said Johnson.

Residents are asked to work independently or as a group to help clear the storm drains near their home to help avoid flooding issues in their neighborhood.