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Businesses at foot of 12th Street weather flooding
Dave Unkovic is thinking of adding a weather man to his staff at the used car dealership he owns at the foot of 12th Street. At least then he could have fair warning of approaching rain storms that have flooded his business and others including the Petro-Canada gas station and The Terminal Pub.
A thunderstorm late Thursday afternoon was the second time in two weeks the staff at Prime Auto Sales scrambled to move about 20 cars from the lower lot that fronts along 12th to prevent water from getting inside and damaging sensitive electronics. The previous storm occurred at midnight and Unkovic and some of his staff had to travel in from Vancouver and Burnaby to save their inventory.
"We have to pay close attention to the weather," said Unkovic, who's been selling cars from that location for five years but only started having flooding issues since the spring. He estimates his lot has been flooded "four or five times," costing him inconvenience and money as the cars all have to be cleaned after they're moved from the muddy lake.
Next door at The Terminal, general manager Alessandro Frau spent two days pressure washing the parking lot of dirt and mud after the late night storm two weeks ago, and only attentive employees working to clear debris from nearby storm drains prevented water from lapping inside the pub.
"The first time this happened this summer it came just inches away from our door," said Frau, who counts three floods since the spring.
Thursday's flood was an unfortunate convergence of Mother Nature and geography, said Dave Cole, New Westminster's acting manager of engineering operations. Due to the location at the foot of hills at Aukland Street and Queen's Avenue, flooding is difficult to avoid at the foot of 12th Street as water flows down and overwhelms catch basins.
"It's like a river flowing down 12th Street," said Coles. "With the volume we had (Thursday) night, the whole system gets loaded and it takes a while to clear."
Cole said when he visited the site on Friday he found rocks as large as six inches in size, likely dislodged from properties further uphill.
"Big rocks that size are not lying on our streets," said Cole.
Unkovic said while the manager of the property where his lot is located has cleaned out the storm drains on his property, he's yet to see a similar effort this year from city crews on the drains along the curb on 12th Street.
Cole said when his crews are alerted about flooding through the city's 24-hour emergency line (604-526-4691) they're dispatched to clear catch basins as soon as possible. He said the city could explore adding additional drains in the area, but he's not sure it would make much difference.
"With the rains (Thursday) night, it was pretty incredible," said Cole.
"It's pretty scary how bad this has gotten," said Frau.
"I think it's time I go to the Army and Navy and get some rubber boots," said Unkovic.