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For too long, the residents of Givens Street and the surrounding neighborhoods in Galax have been forced to live in a water-logged past that ended for most of the city in the 1940s, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rerouted and reinforced Chestnut Creek to prevent frequent floods that often washed away the low-lying areas.
In recent years — most notably in 2007 and most recently last summer — residents of these neighborhoods were surrounded by backed-up flood waters caused by inadequate and dilapidated stormwater drainage systems.
In 2007, these homeowners had to be rescued from their homes by boat.
So, it was welcome news when City of Galax officials announced plans last month to look into grant funding to fix up the Givens/Shaw/Barger street areas.
This area east of Chestnut Creek and south of U.S. 58, along North Meadow Street — known, not always unaffectionately, as “The Bottom” — has endured this situation long enough.
Those who live in this community, many of them among the city's lower-income residents, deserve better than the soaking they receive during heavy rains.
Even on dry days, their situation is not the best. Most of these residents live in houses that are in poor condition.
One of the city's intentions is to improve the condition of some of that area's substandard housing, which is a commendable goal.
A previous effort, the housing rehabilitation project on Center Street, turned a similar neighborhood into a much nicer community for its residents.
Fixing up “The Bottom” has the added benefit of improving the aesthetics of a main entrance to the city.
(While you're at it, Galax, one of the other gateways to the city, South Main Street, could use some attention, as well.)
After tackling more affluent areas of the city — the newly renovated downtown area isn't exactly well-off, but it's in a better condition than “The Bottom” — it's about time Galax looked to improve this beleaguered neighborhood.