Oregon street crews are using Google Earth on their smart phones to find catch basins to clear away snow and ice to lower the risk of flooding.
The software provides data, such as detailed, highlighted maps of cities and streets throughout the world.
Public Service Director Paul Roman told council last week the city received about 1.7 inches of rain the previous week, which caused some local flooding.
“I think our biggest problem is that our catch basins are already covered with snow or ice. The crew, as well as the crew leaders, was using their smart phones to find catch basins on Google Earth. That made it pretty unique,” said Roman.
“In some subdivisions, you obviously can see where the water is ponding, and know you’re near a catch basin. On some of the east-west roads, it’s not as easy to find a catch basin and it definitely was coming in handy to have that technology,” he added.
Google Earth is software that provides data into detailed, highlighted maps, which helped road crews know where to go.
“I’ve always said many times that the worst rain event now is in the winter. Obviously, when the ground can’t absorb water because it’s frozen makes it the worst. All the snow we had prior to the event made it worse than normal,” said Roman.
There was some flooding in the South Shore Park – Grisell area, he said.
“We had winds out of the south blowing everything due north. It just inundated Grisell Road. Then once it crossed the road, it went into the entire subdivision,” he said.
“We had a pump out there throughout the weekend. We have street department crews making sure these drainage systems were kept open the best that they could. I know there’s still some physical work that needs to take place. But I think things are down in that area. There’s still a lot of water, but you’ll see it now as ice. There’s a couple who came to visit me on Friday asking for help, and obviously we certainly agreed to do whatever we could do. But I told them the long term solution really is to reestablish a field ditch that was once there many years ago, if not many decades ago, that would intercept drainage from the south. They certainly wanted to discuss that with us further Other than that, there were a handful of sanitary calls, but a lot of them were lateral sewer oriented. I know the mainline on Yarrow had a blockage that we had removed on Friday. Otherwise, the system worked pretty well for this rain event. We were lucky, actually, with the amount of rain that fell. It certainly could have been worse.”
Councilman Jerry Peach asked Roman if it was necessary to remove ice along the ditch that parallels Lagundovie Road.
“On Lagundovie, it was not a problem,” said Roman. “But on Big Ditch and the other larger channels, there are times when snow breaks away and forms an ice blockage. But Big Ditch worked very well.”
The Wolf Creek relief ditch also worked well, he added. “It was going continuously throughout that rain event. I know that definitely helped people on Stadium Road near Wolf Creek. A lot of things did work well. But again, I felt kind of lucky. When you design a drainage system, you don’t design it for every bit of earth to be frozen. Clearly, when you think about the lake and turbidity and everything else with algae, this is that classic event where everything on the surface of those fields is draining straight off like a parking lot.”
Councilwoman Kathy Pollauf praised Roman and the public service department for all their work this winter.
“I really do think your department did an awesome job,” she said. “I talked to residents, and they were shocked at how quickly your department came out and cleaned out catch basins over the weekend. They were just really happy. It could have been worse, but it wasn’t. You guys did a really great job.
“Our water distribution repair crews were working repairs and frozen water lines, including one next to Tractor Supply. They were working in the rain, in the cold and mud, to restore that water distribution. They did a terrific job,” said Peach.