WSAZ Investigates | Flooded and Frustrated update

WSAZ Investigates | Flooded and Frustrated update
Published: Oct. 18, 2022 at 6:41 PM EDT
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KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - We have an update to our WSAZ Investigation Flooded and Frustrated.

Last week, we told you about neighbors in the Kanawha County community of Rand who tell us for the last 50 to 60 years, every time it rains their properties become flooded.

WSAZ Investigates | Flooded and Frustrated

After multiple requests to speak with someone from the West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT), on Monday we were able to speak with chief engineer of development and deputy state highway engineer about plans to make improvements.

Rand residents, including Mack Reed, said the flooding issue has become a constant for them.

“I can’t get out of my house,” Reed said. “I got to go through the back.

He said the water has come as close as 2 inches from getting into his home.

According to the WVDOT, a fix is in the works. WSAZ’s Sarah Sager started reaching out in September, trying to find out more about that fix and a timeline for the construction. Since she started calling and sending emails, the department has now sent three news releases about the project, as well as making the chief engineer available to speak with us.

“Frankly, again, with them not being incorporated, no one was really watching what was being done,” said Jason Foster, the chief engineer of development and deputy state highway engineer with the WVDOT, who’s one of the people working on a solution. “The Department of Transportation is taking this on because there’s a need in Rand. A lot of the issues and problems are not on our property. They are on adjacent properties. However, there’s no one else to step in and do this work. So, we have taken it on to try and provide relief over and above what we would normally do.”

Work on the estimated $12 million project will stretch from Marshall Avenue to Athens Avenue and involve multiple construction contracts through several years.

By February of next year, Foster says environmental clearances will be obtained. He said contracts will be ready to go by the end of 2023 and the community should see some activity and construction by spring of 2024.

“What we are really talking about is two design phases with as many as 10 construction phases, which later we will refer to as contracts once we get them programmed,” Foster said.

Construction will begin where the flooding is the worst -- close to Harvard Avenue.

“Some of these contracts have to wait on the previous contract before you can do more. So, we will actually have, I’m guessing, this is probably a five- or six-year plan.”

Foster said he understands the frustrations of the community but wants to focus on moving forward.

“We’re trying our best to address what we can as promptly as we can. This is a very complicated, convoluted mess that we are trying to sort out and find ways to convey water to the river. All of the old drains seem to have been lost or are unusable now. So, we’re essentially starting from scratch with the drainage system in a community which already exists, which makes it very difficult.”

Foster says, at this time, they don’t anticipate having to take over any residential property to complete the storm drain project. However, they are working on ownership of alleys in the area.