I-Team: Homeowners feel their neighborhood is washing away

Published: May. 15, 2014 at 1:55 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Spring, it's prime time for flooding.

If you live in an area prone to it, you are probably always on the look out.

Homeowners in one part of Cape Girardeau say they've had it with high water, and want the city to do something about it.

Even if this doesn't affect you, you can probably empathize with the problem.

Being a homeowner certainly has its benefits and headaches.

A group of folks from Cape Girardeau is beyond the headache stage, and really feel like their neighborhood is washing away.

On a beautiful, sunny day one section of north central Cape Girardeau looks pleasant and calm.

But, when it rains the problems pour.

Cell phone video from last August shows what looks like a raging river through Teri Jones' yard.

That particular time the rain fell hard and fast.

"It brings water up to my back door," said Teri Jones.

She says at many times, including a few weeks ago during a storm, it brought water into her basement.

"It's becoming disgusting that I can predict this will happen every time it rains," said Jones.

Carl Kuntze moved to this neighborhood in 1976.

"The next block up, Melrose marked the end of city limits," said Carl Kuntze. "It was all pasture land."

"We didn't really have any particular requirements for storm water at that time," said Cape Girardeau Public Works Director Tim Gramling.

Gramling says developers didn't have rules to follow in terms of storm water until the early 1990s.  

"We have miles and miles of street to the north and all storm water/rainwater leads to this ditch by my house," said Carl Kuntze.

The ditch behind Kuntze's house doesn't look too bad during a light rainfall.

But, when it pours, it swells.

Kuntze says it then rushes beside his neighbors' houses. It then goes across Glenridge Drive, and into a large ditch behind Teri Jones' house.

"It's creating quite a hazard," said Jones.

She's worried not only about water in her house, but in her yard. It's causing debris and trash to pile up.
There is also the erosion concern.

"The amount of yard space I had between my back fence and the creek used to be 20 feet, now we're looking at six feet," said Jones.

"We're all at wits end, and have been for many years," said Kuntze.

It affects about a dozen homeowners on Glenridge Drive and and Melrose Avenue.

The homeowners feel that because they are such a minority, they are not able to make enough noise.

However, the city is aware of the problem.

"It does take in quite a bit of storm water," said Public Works Director Tim Gramling.

Gramling says a fairly recent project, the Lisa Street Detention Basin, has helped some.

"We all knew we weren't going to eliminate problems totally, but we could lessen the frequency of some of the problems," said Gramling.

It looks like those problems may persist because Gramling says his hands are tied.

The development around this neighborhood happened prior to storm water requirements, because of that, Gramling says the city isn't responsible for the flooding.

However, if they did something now?

"If we were to do something that did affect properties downstream we would introduce the potential for some legal liabilities then," said Gramling.

"No one ever listens," said Carl Kuntze. "They are using our yard as a detention basin for flooding downstream that may occur."

When asked what options the homeowners have, other than moving?

Gramling said, "That's about the only option if they don't want to experience what they are experiencing now."

"But,who's going to want to buy my house when every time they turn around this not such a beautiful, cute little stream anymore but there is this monstrosity of a headache behind my house," said Teri Jones.

One homeowner would like to see a bridge put in to allow the stream to flow more naturally.

The city says that's not a viable option.

The neighbors collectively hope that the city would consider an in depth study of the area in the near future.

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