By Leila Beem Núñez, editor
Heavy rains that fell on Manchester last Sunday (July 23) left some residents on and near Skinner Flat Road concerned about the flooding seen in the area, and particularly what effect even more rainfall may have on the low-lying street.
Skinner Flat Road was closed the following day (July 24) due to water running over part of the roadway. Several residences in the area experienced major flooding on their properties, including homes on Ester Lane.
Rocky Jones, Jr., who lives on Skinner Flat Road, spent some of the following days taking pictures of his flooded street. Jones said he worries about the effect heavy rains have on what he sees as a narrow road. He added he felt the street needed other maintenance, including the addition of lights.
“When that water flows, it lifts the manhole covers right off and the water comes up from underneath because the water is flowing so hard,” Jones said.
Jones added he fears for drivers and pedestrians alike, and thinks a higher bridge should be added to Skinner Flat Road to prevent water from rising over the street.
“They need to raise that road and that bridge because that water comes through there too fast,” Jones said. “And you’ve got little kids – someone is going to drive through there and someone is going to get hurt or killed. It doesn’t take the much water. It’s only a matter of time.”
Manchester Public Works Director Brent Carter said that though the flooding in the area of Skinner Flat was considerable, there is not much that can be done currently. Carter added the city most recently added new culverts to the bridge on Ester Lane to help alleviate flooding issues, and has been working on drainage issues on Doak Road, Hills Chapel Road and Forrestwood Drive.
“It’s just a low-lying area. When you get 5 inches of rain all that once, you’re going to flood,” Carter said. “It’s always been an issue.”
Carter said the city had several years ago looked into raising the Skinner Flat Road bridge but soon discovered it to be a costly project the city could not likely routinely afford.
“They looked at one time putting a bridge over Skinner Flat Road, but the price was just astronomical,” Carter said. “You almost need a grant for something like that. It’s quite a project.”
The estimate for the bridge, done over 10 years ago, is not readily available and likely much different now, said city engineer Scot St. John, who assessed it originally.
Carter said some overflow has been experienced in the area due to a Arbor Oaks, a subdivision still being constructed between Skinner Flat Road and Ester Lane. The city is working to address that issue, Carter said.
“We did experience a little overflow after they built that, and we’re working through that now,” Carter said.
Ray Amos, an Ester Lane resident and chairman of Manchester’s Historic Zoning Commission, said that in the nearly 20 years he has lived there, the area has flooded every few years due to heavy rains.
“My driveway was a lake,” Amos said of the July 23 flooding. “It floods every so often – not a whole lot, but every two or three years. I’ve seen higher water before.”
Amos said he personally could not determine whether or not subdivision development in the area has been a contributing factor to flooding, but suggested clean-ups of the flooding stream whose flow might be stopped from
“There has to be a lot of trash in that stream, there’s just nowhere for that water to go,” Amos said. “But we will have some problems when we get as much rain as we got.”