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West Palm Beach utility crews work to clear drains to prevent flooding during, after storms

Posted at 4:44 PM, Aug 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-07 18:47:09-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The water may be gone, but flash floods from Tuesday are still impacting the area. Especially for crews who are working within stormwater drainage divisions. They’ve been working since the water receded.

“It was like the Nile River,” said James Smith, a West Palm Beach Roosevelt Estates resident.

Smith also says the current rainy season is the worst than he’s seen in years past. Flood waters rose inches above a city maintained drain just feet from his home.

”Oh, yes especially when the storms come,” he said. “It makes me concerned in the event of a hurricane.”

WPTV found drains clogged with vegetation, beer cans, plastics and anything else you might imagine following the flood. The city’s Stormwater Drainage Division anticipated Tuesday’s storm and higher than normal tides. Workers checked and cleaned approximately 5,600 drains linked by 184-miles of storm pipes – all maintained by the city.

”We’re not a 24/7 operation but if we need to call them, we do call them out,” said Dr. Poonam Kalkat, director of public utilities for the City of West Palm Beach.

But Kalkat says while the city is prepared for the next flash flood there’s still a public responsibility.

”We’ll continue doing what we need to do before the storm, during the storm and after the storm. But it’s a great help if everybody does their part,” she said.

City officials say if you know a storm is expected remove all trash cans, vegetation and anything else that might float into roadways or city drains. They also encourage the public to report clogged drains and flooding.

Contact the City of West Palm Beach Public Utilities Central Operations Emergency Office at (561) 822-2210 (TTY: 800-855-8771). The office is available 24 hours.