Mother Says Storm Drain Design Dangerous for Children

The so-called bubble grate leaves an opening about a foot high.
The so-called bubble grate leaves an opening about a foot high.

When we get even a little rain, if the tide is right, you know how much we need canals and sewers and drains. And sometimes, those drains can be dangerous. After a young boy almost fell into one, his family wants Chatham County to do something about it.

After Jennifer Peabody's young son almost fell into the drain, she called the county to complain, but they said fixing it wasn't a priority.

Josh Peabody is an active 2 1/2-year-old who loves playing outdoors. But one day while Josh was running through the front yard at his Wilmington Island home, he slipped and fell, right near the drainage grate pictured here.

"One leg went in about knee deep and he bent his back leg," said Jennifer.

Josh was okay, but watching him almost fall in scared his mom. "I got chills, my gosh, what if he fell in, how would I get him out?"

Jennifer called the Chatham County Public Works Department to replace the grate so her son wouldn't fall in again. She says they were less than helpful.

"He told me they were swamped, and it was not a priority, that I wouldn't see him until the end of this year," she told us.

We did speak with the county public works director, who declined to go on camera but did explain that this type of grate is a bubble grate. In order to replace it, they'd have to replace the entire drainage system and build a new manhole cover.

It's not in the plans to do so just now, and that's not the news Jennifer wanted to hear. "I'm sorry they have to do extra work, but it's not just my child, it's other people's children," she said.

The grate's opening is about a foot wide. The drain, about three feet deep. Jennifer says it's just too dangerous. "I couldn't even imagine another child, let alone mine falling in there. All I want is for them to replace it."

The county public works department says it is looking in to the matter, but does not have an order in right now to fix it. Jennifer said she would be happy even if they put in a temporary replacement, like a flat grate, until they could fix the entire drain system.

Reported by: Melanie Ruberti,