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St. Joseph County drainage board approves study of outdated pipe

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – A potential step forward for residents on the south side of South Bend dealing with flooding.

Homeowners from Jewel Woods gathered at a St. Joseph County Drainage board meeting on Monday morning to discuss residual issues from the 2016 flooding.

A new study will look into a pipe upstream from a culvert in the neighborhood.

All infrastructures in the Phillips Ditch watershed are connected so findings in the study could have an impact in South Bend.

Neighbors in the area are frustrated with the lack of answers.

Randy Kiefer who is a resident of Opal St. for 25 years said he had high water in his basement and the backyard.

John Law, a construction supervisor for St. Joseph County Department Public works said, "Yes, there is an issue there. Basically, they're at the bottom of one hill and the start of another hill, so that's where all the water starts to pond, the solution isn't as simple as we'd want it to be."

Residents are struggling with the lack of action when it comes to fixing the culvert.

In the works right now to try to help Jewel Woods neighbors are FEMA grant applications for its voluntary buyout program, and a study of the Lindeman tile which is pulling $12,000 from the Philips Ditch watershed account.

The balance is a large portion of the area’s money.

A county commissioner told ABC57 News that the county estimates it will receive about $18,000 a year in property taxes from those that live on the 4900 acres in the Phillips Ditch Watershed.

At this time, they are sitting with close to $27,000 in the account, but they already spent about $18,000 this year to remove sediment in Jewel Woods.

After the $12,000 is used for the approved study, the commissioner says it empties the account until the next collection of taxes in November.

Dave Thomas, the St. Joseph County Commissioner said, "We've done our best to try to help them with what little we can, but there's really not a lot of funding at the local level, which is why we've been working with FEMA for a couple years, and we're hoping to continue to work with FEMA and qualify for some of these federal grants to help these people."

The first deadline for this FEMA grant program is September 15th with the full application due on November 15th.

The study could begin as soon as the engineers are prepared and will take about 5 months to complete.


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