By John L. Ross
TIMES TRIBUNE (CORBIN, Ky.)
Judy Mills has a problem.
And on Thursday night, she came before the Barbourville City Council with her sister and son-in-law to get her problem heard.
She explained to council members that she inherited her father’s Henson Lane residence — and that since the flood wall was complete, drainage issues have plagued the home.
But her late father, Charles Henson, spent years tackling the flooding issues which continue to damage the residence.
But the problem, according to Mills, may have come with city road improvement projects.
“They’ve (come out) and blacktopped, and blacktopped, and blacktopped,” she said. “(And now) I’m in a hole.”
She explained that since last fall alone, water has gotten into the home five different times during heavy rains — and the runoff from those rains are washing into her property from the road.
Mills then produced several pictures of the damage sustained in the home, which she shared with council members and Mayor David Thompson.
“The road (is now) above the porch (because of all) the layers of blacktop,” she said, adding that throughout the years, her father continued to battle the drainage issues with several different concrete ditches.
The latest flooding required more than a month to dry out the residence, and electric bills and the like have gotten out of control for her.
“I’m not here to cause anybody any trouble,” Mills told council members. “We replaced the baseboards, (but the) paneling is buckled.”
She also learned that after the last property tax assessment — the property value sank several thousand dollars.
Council member Sherman Lawson told her it was the first he had heard of the situation, but did agree that Mills’ property was now “in a hole.”
Thompson told council members that he visited the home a month ago.
“It was a mess — (there was) water in the house,” he said.
He added that he and City Superintendent Jim Baker brought out equipment to clean out various drainage ditches — which had not been done in more than two decades.
Ditches were cleaned out from Foley Drive, Catron Avenue and down to Tinsley Road — and Thompson said all kinds of debris was removed, including tires, trash, rocks and bricks.
However, the mayor said the following morning another “hard rain” swept through the city, and as he drove by the Mills’ home, it “looks like gutter water” may be getting inside the home.
“I’m sure there was some water running off the street too,” he added.
Baker then spoke.
“(The blacktop) is deep,” he said. “(But) I have no knowledge of the road being built up.”
He explained to council members that a day and a half was spent on drainage cleanup and removal that had not been done in 25 years.
“I’m confident we’ve done something to eliminate the problem,” he said.
One solution suggested to the Mills’ family to try was adding downspouts to allow the roof runoff to flow to the drainage ditches.
“(This could) eliminate the problem they’re having,” he said.
Other problems also affect installing larger than four-inch drain lines in the property — both sewer and gas lines run the same area.
Council member Darren West questioned whether the easement for the gas lines was obtained, and if the lines could be relocated.
Council member Wilma Barnes expressed empathy for Mills’ flooding issues — explaining it happened to her.
“(Water) came into my beauty shop and ruined my floors,” she said.
Thompson suggested maybe they return to the property to look at possible solutions again.
“I don’t really know what the council can do anyway,” Thompson said.
Mills’ next step, which she said was already under way, is to replace the guttering — and if that does not solve the problem, she’ll contact the mayor’s office.
No council decision was necessary for this discussion.