MOUNT CARMEL, Ohio – Lauren Strauss’s basement floods so often – once it ruined their new $7,000 furnace – that they hung the replacement furnace from the ceiling to keep it out of the water.
"It has flooded now nine times, including last night, since 2011,” Strauss said Monday.
It’s been the same nightmare for their neighbor on the other side of Elmont Drive, Russ Arey. And when Strauss and Arey ask their local government for help, they say it just makes matters worse.
The residents say it's the township's problem to fix, and the township says just the opposite.
"It's been very frustrating every time it rains. We all get anxiety,” Strauss said. “It's unsafe to use my driveway. I only have a little portion on my driveway that we can use and just the amount of stress it takes to deal with the county is unbelievable."
Scott Strauss said the flooding starts in his driveway and water down his driveway into his garage and basement. The water was 6 feet high, he said.
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"The pipe that runs underneath the road to the driveway won't handle the capacity, so it backs up, goes over the road and then it goes -- 'course I have the low spot on the driveway -- and it goes in and floods our house and the basement,” Scott Strauss said.
Arey said the sewer system is outdated.
"This infrastructure, even if it existed and was working perfectly, can probably no longer support what's happened here in the development arena," Arey said.
Union Township Administrator Ken Geis wouldn't go on camera, but here’s what he said:
The existing pipes were built well before modern-day runoff regulations, so the pipe is essentially grandfathered in. And even if the township did increase the capacity here, it would run the risk of increasing flooding on someone else's property downstream.
Arey said that argument doesn’t hold water.
“If this is my right-of-way, and I owned it, and there was a maintenance issue with it, and it’s my right-of-way for my purpose, then I would take care of it,” he said.
Geis said he plans to have county engineers come and take a look at things, but residents say that's happened before and nothing was done. The Strausses are shopping for an attorney to explore their legal options.