RED SPRINGS — Efforts to resolve longtime flooding problems in the Thurlow Street area of Red Springs continue, with the cleaning out of ditches and drainage canals being the major focus.
Town employees and contractors are “doing our best” to clean trash out of the ditches and canals that serve as part of the area’s stormwater drainage system, Derrick Edge, who leads the town’s Electric Department and oversees street maintenance, told town commissioners Monday. It’s a slow process because no sooner is a ditch cleaned out than more trash is found floating in it.
“This won’t be the remedy for the problem, but it will help,” he said.
Thurlow Street always has been flood-prone, and town officials for years have unsuccessfully tried to fix the problem. Flooding from Hurricane Matthew devastated the area, destroying five to seven homes. Those living in the homes before the hurricane have not been able to return.
“It doesn’t have to rain hard for this area to flood,” Commissioner Caroline Sumpter said. “That’s something we don’t see and the residents do. I understand their frustration.”
Mayor John McNeill said town officials are “scratching their heads” trying to come up with a plan that will alleviate the potential for flooding, while at the same time be financially prudent.
“We thought we had this problem solved, and now we know that we don’t,” McNeill said.
The town is looking at all possible ways to fund flood prevention projects, including seeking money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help pay for hurricane-related cleanup, construction and repair costs in the Thurlow Street area, McNeill said.
Town Manager James Bennett told the commissioners that he attended a meeting Monday during which he and other area officials were updated on how to apply for some of the $190 million in Community Development Block Grant money recently allocated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for Hurricane Mathew recovery efforts.
According to Bennett, Robeson County’s share of the total $190 million in block grant money allocated to North Carolina is about $69 million. After the lion’s share of Robeson County’s funding goes to Lumberton and the county, about $10 million to $12 million will be available for other municipalities needing money for disaster recovery projects.
In other business, the town commissioners on Monday:
— Passed a resolution needed to finance the purchase of a $207,000 street sweeper. The money to buy the sweeper is in the town’s budget.
— Were informed by McNeill that Monday was the deadline for applications from candidates the town manager job. Bennett recently announced he is retiring at the end of the year.
— Heard an update from Sheila Delacruz on plans for the development of a community garden adjacent to the town’s new farmers market. Delacruz, who is overseeing the garden’s development, said she is hearing from community members interested in participating in the project.
Monday’s meeting was a continuation of the commissioner’s regular July monthly meeting. The board meets again at 7 p.m. today for its regular August meeting.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.