Crews in Savannah cleaning out storm drains - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Crews in Savannah cleaning out storm drains

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

Public Works crews are very busy throughout the city of Savannah, preparing for whatever Hurricane Irma may bring. 

One of the top priorities right now is eliminating anything that may contribute to flooding. There's a reason why you should never put trash and debris in these storm drains. It causes flooding. At times like these, city officials say please heed this advice. 

"If we can't get water to the pumps, the pumps are rendered useless," said Derryl Kershaw, Storm Water Supervisor, City of Savannah. 

The city started prepping last week as soon as they realized Irma could be headed in our direction. Not only have they been cleaning out the storm drains, but also the canals that they lead to. Wednesday morning, crews could be seen near Truman Parkway, digging up debris and vegetation that was initially collection for neighborhood storm drains. 

The Casey Canal is one of three canals that lead to seven pump stations around the city, collecting and pumping storm water out into the marsh. These pump stations are vital to coastal cities like Savannah because they help reduce the amount of flooding during any type of minor or major weather event, but the process can be compromised if the storm drains become clogged. 

"Savannah does have flooding issues but we can alleviate a lot of that. Don't put the straw in the storm drain. The leaves, don't rake them into the storm drain, and whenever they see us around, they normally don't do it, but if you see your neighbor doing it, tell them not to do that because them doing that could cause your house to flood," said Kershaw. 

During Hurricane Matthew, all 11 had to be turned on. In fact, all seven pumps around the city were operating at max capacity. 

"We could fill a swimming pool within a minute - per pump," said Kershaw. 

Kershaw says during Matthew, the city pumped six billion gallons of water. To put that into perspective, it takes approximately 20,000 gallons of water to fill one swimming pool, which means the city could have filled 300,000 swimming pools with the amount of water from Matthew. Kershaw says we were lucky with Matthew because the city was able to handle it. 

"If it were a category 4, you would have seen a lot more flooding," he said. 

An unsettling reality because there's still so much uncertainty about Hurricane Irma. Most coastal cities have pump stations like these and still end up underwater if the storm is more than the pumps can handle, like what happened in Texas with Hurricane Harvey. 

Right now, city officials continue to clean these storm drains and get prepared, and they tell us will be ready for whatever this storm may bring. City crews that operate the pumps did not evacuate during Matthew. It's too soon to say if that will be the case again. If not, they can operate and monitor the pumps remotely. 

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