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Most people who live in the Twin Counties will agree: the weather has been tough on us for the past few months.
Starting at the end of December, we were hit with rain, snow and ice. Some loved the opportunity to snuggle up at home and take a “snow day,” while others hated it because they still had to drive ― and sometimes slide ― to and from work in the slushy muck.
But even those who fit into the latter were the lucky ones, compared to the residents of Givens Street in Galax.
Imagine walking out to your car in the morning, to find it halfway submerged in a pond of water in your front yard.
Imagine wading to your mailbox, or taking the dog out for a swim instead of a brisk walk.
Even worse, imagine the police evacuating you from your home, because the water is so deep that it’s no longer safe.
That’s what these families go through, to the point where it is almost the norm.
When the forecast warns of rain, the ritual begins: moving the family car to higher ground, digging boots out of the closet that are okay to get wet or packing a bag for staying somewhere else entirely.
After years of putting up with the constant flooding, it’s understandable that these members of the community are frustrated. Some try to dig trenches around the property on their own. Others simply splash in the water with their children, and make the best out of a bad situation.
A few have given up on seeing the problem go away.
But the City of Galax hasn’t. Thanks to grant funding, the city is planning to revitalize the flood-prone "Bottom" area of Galax, from new pipelines to housing repairs. The city has laid out the project in phases, and warns that it will be a time-consuming effort.
City officials insist that it can and will be done, but it’s not hard to empathize with the Givens Street residents’ skepticism.
Two things are working against these folks every time precipitation from the sky is imminent: location and condition. This street sits as the bottom of a geographic "bowl" that collects water when it rains. The drainage system at the bottom of the bowl are outdated and inadequate, thus failing to carry away the water, which forms a deep pond in the middle of the street.
The city’s plan is to replace the drainage system with an updated and functioning one, repair the roads, and restore effected homes to create a safe and livable environment.
That being said, there are still plenty of inevitable rainstorms between now and when the project is completed.
For those who live with this problem, that waiting period is going to feel a lot longer.
How many more car repairs?
How many more mornings of getting soaked to the waist, wading through a pond because they have to get to work?
How many more nights in a shelter or a friend or family member’s home?
A question posed to The Gazette repeatedly by several Givens Street residents was: “Isn’t there something that can be done?”
We didn’t have an answer for them, but in a community that always seems to come through for those in need, we have a feeling that someone out there does have an answer in the short term, while the city works on a long-term solution.
Hopefully, that answer will be found soon, before the next rain clouds float over Galax.