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West Palm Beach doubles efforts to clean storm water drains to prevent spread of Zika

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Posted at 6:00 PM, Sep 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-14 04:36:40-04

Janice Critchett has deep ties to the Northwood Shores section of West Palm Beach. For years, she’s watched water collect and overflow from a storm drain on Flagler Drive and 35th Street near from her home. 

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“It's terrible it's getting worse every year,” said Critchett, who’s lived in the neighborhood for 30 years. “It breeds mosquitoes and that kind of thing and it's even worse now with Zika and there's kids in this street and it's a big problem.”

In hopes of addressing the problem of standing water, the city of West Palm Beach says it’s doubling its efforts to clean storm drains. There are more than 5,000 in the city.
 
“That's the number one thing on the list is the Zika virus,” said Anthony Thompson, the supervisor of the West Palm Beach Storm Water Department. “We get these calls more than anything right about now.”

“I call them all the time when there's water, it's standing water,” added Critchett.
 
in less than 24 hours, the city dispatches a vacuum truck. City workers lower a hose into the drain and within minutes the water is gone. 
 
“We just go from one call to another taking care of these calls as fast as we can,” explained Thompson.
 
That’s what another West Palm Beach resident wanted to hear.  “I think it's a good idea because anytime there's any standing water the mosquitoes come out of control,” he said.
 
But just two hours later, the same storm drain appeared half full. 
 
“I think it looks the way it usually looks but it's a little bit lower, disappointing,” said Critchett.
 
It’s not the outcome she was hoping for. 
 
“They can suck the water out of there, but why don't they really find out what the problem is,” said Critchett. “Handle that.”

To report standing water, call the city’s hotline at 561-822-2222.

A truck will be dispatched in less than 24 hours. 

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