Atlanta council members look to address persistent flooding following storms

Residents in some Atlanta neighborhoods say it’s not the first time they’ve faced flooding issues. City leaders say they are listening and taking action.
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 6:36 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Floodwaters have receded revealing widespread damage after Thursday’s storms.

Residents in some Atlanta neighborhoods say it’s not the first time they’ve faced flooding issues. City leaders say they are listening and taking action.

“It was absolute chaos yesterday,” recalled Tiffany Harts.

She is one of a handful of residents living in a northwest Atlanta apartment who experienced waist-high flood water sweep through her complex.

“I had to climb out the window, grab the baby and hold the baby up high through the water,” said apartment resident, Terri Samuels-Gordon.

Harts says it’s not the first time she’s faced flooding issues in that neighborhood.

“How could this happen here in Atlanta of all places,” said Harts. “You would think they put measures in place so that stuff like this doesn’t happen,” said Harts.

A similar feeling was felt about two miles away at Clark Atlanta University where stormwater flooded dorms and wiped out students’ cars.

“I never thought this would happen to me,” said CAU student, Ashley Harvey.

Her car was one of several cars damaged by the storms.

“This was our only way of transportation, so we are just out of luck,” she said.

Clark Atlanta University says they’ve identified 24 students who were impacted by the storm. CAU says they’re relocating those students to available on-campus housing.

Clark Atlanta University says it’s working in partnership with Student Affairs, Alumni Relations and Engagement and others to provide support to all students impacted by Thursday’s storms.

Following Thursday’s flooding, Atlanta News First reached out to every city council member about what is being done to prevent future flooding.

Councilman Byron Amos says he’s asked the chair of the City Utilities and the Community Development Committee to host a joint work session.

“This work session will be with the Dept. Of Watershed Management, the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Sustainability and the Mayor’s office of Equity to examine the issue of flooding on the Westside of Atlanta,” Councilman Amos said.

“Absolutely we need to have a public conversation to make sure the public knows city council is on top of this issue and we’re working to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” said District 4 Council member Jason Dozier.

He says it’s time to focus on a more permanent fix and a bond voters approved last year can help.

“We have a lot of funding available for infrastructure projects. We need to manage stormwater runoff, to manage flooding, I think now we have to focus on how do we implement the funding that we already have put in place,” said Dozier.

The City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management said it continues to make investments in its collection and stormwater systems.

DWM released a statement saying in part:

“We are implementing specific projects as solutions to reduce flooding and enhance protection against these extreme weather conditions, which are becoming more frequent due to climate change.

As part of an ongoing, proactive approach to inclement weather, DWM crews consistently remove debris and sediment from stormwater catch basins and inlet structures in flood-prone areas. These measures enhance the performance of the stormwater system and safeguards the welfare of both public and private properties.”