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City of Memphis implements plan to help prevent flash flooding

"We need help getting that information to us - call 311 and notify us,” said Memphis Public Works Director Robert Knecht.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — These past few days, the rain has brought a nice cool down from the heat we’ve had this summer, but it is also brought with it flash flooding. 

So ABC24 spoke with the City of Memphis Public Works to see how they are trying to minimize flooding.

We’ve heard it before. Clean gutters and remove debris from storm drains. We do our part, but we still see flooding during heavy rain.

“We can't construct our systems to handle every type of storm. It would just be outrageously expensive,” said Robert Knecht, City of Memphis Public Works Director.

The City of Memphis is finding other ways to address the problem. 

“We've started what we call a storm water program management aspect of it where we're modeling every drainage system, looking at the weaknesses, what are the risks, and then seeing what we can do to address those,” said Knecht.

The city added retention basins to control flood flow. 

“Our streets are designed to supplement the drainage system. They're intended to, if the rainfall or the storm water can't get into the drainage systems, to kind of hold it in the roadway so that it doesn't get on their private property,” said Knecht.

He also said the flooding we see is a combination of changes in weather and growth. 

“When areas grow - more concrete and more roof - then the storm water can move faster. You know, when it's when it's an open field, you know, percolate, percolates, it gets held up, you know, it doesn't, it doesn't move as fast,” said Knecht. “There is a lot of concern over climate change and global warming, right? Those things are changing the dynamic of our weather patterns.”

In the meantime, aside from keeping our streets clean and keeping debris from drains and gutters, if we see flooded area, the best thing to do is to contact the city. 

“As you can imagine, you know, 325 square miles, 6714 miles of streets, 60,000 units, that's a lot. So we need help getting that information to us - call 311 and notify us,” said Knecht.

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