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Dormont Resident Talks About Flooding Issue

Flooding is common in Dormont, and is affecting one neighborhood in particular. Now, the borough is looking into what can be done.

Dormont Council is considering options for curbing a water problem affecting residents on Kelton Avenue.

Residents living in and near the 1200 block of Kelton Avenue attended recent council meetings, sharing concerns about flooding that is causing major property damage.

Cars have been flooded and ruined, garage doors destroyed, documents and valuables damaged when inches of water have ended up in basements, the residents explained. Some said they had been living with the issue for decades, and had come to council meetings years ago, with little result.

Resident Lauren Shuty's property was recently one of the worst hit.

Shuty has lived on Kelton for seven years, and said a storm drain and three-foot wall at the back of her property normally kept rainwater from totally flooding her yard.

But with so much rain in the past few weeks, water has come through Shuty's neighborhood with force, damaging property along the way. The drain overflowed, and Shuty's wall was washed out, unleashing a waterfall through her backyard that damaged a privacy fence in her yard, and flooded her sidewalks and porch. All told, the damage amounts to about $4,500.

"If you think about it, it's kind of weird that this property floods, because it's not at the bottom of the hill. It's not right in that lower basin," she said. "It's just the lay of the land though. It's just where the water goes."

She has homeowners insurance, but it doesn't cover flooding.

Residents asked council at the end of July if the borough could do anything to fix the water problem. They offered suggestions about what could be causing the problem, and asked council to look into the issue before more damage occurred.

Borough manager Jeff Naftal said last week that the borough has a two-fold plan for dealing with the issue, but fixing the problem could be highly expensive.

First, the borough plans to hire an engineer that specializes in water drainage to look at the Kelton Avenue situation, and come up with options for managing or correcting it.

"That doesn't mean that any of those options will be affordable," Naftal said. "That doesn't mean those options will be feasible. But at least we'll have some idea of what's possible from an engineering standpoint."

Naftal said the process could take up to two months, depending on how quickly engineering proposals are received and can be evaluated by borough officials.

Shuty said she thinks the right thing for the borough to do would be to fix the problem at its source. In the meantime, she said she's happy the borough is looking into ways to help the residents.

"I'm certainly glad they're doing what they've proposed," Shuty said. "I appreciate that they're not ignoring it."

An insurance option also is available for all borough residents facing a similar situation, Naftal said. The National Flood Insurance program is available through several agents, and would cover flood proofing as well as damage repairs. The rate is fixed, and is set by the federal government.

Naftal said he wants to increase awareness about the insurance program, because residents throughout the borough are affected by flooding. It's a common problem, he said, because the borough's storm system is not built to handle storms that frequently result in excessive rain.

"There are three-foot walls all throughout this borough," he said. "I've been on nearly every street, and those walls are everywhere. A lot of people have this problem."

Shuty has started the process of working with that insurance company, and already has contacted an agent.

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