Intense flooding concerns some residents on Ottumwa's west end

Flooding on Samantha Street in Ottumwa.

Six months ago Buddy Kelley noticed a culvert collapsed near his home and work on Ottumwaâ??s west side.

"We got a couple cricks back here, one of them is over to the west, and it can't drain underneath these railroad tracks,â?? Kelley said. â??When that happens it all bottlenecks and tops over the corner and levy over here."

The culvert is part of a levee system that helps transport water to the Des Moines River. The channel runs underneath the railroad tracks, but instead of the water running through, it's getting washed into the neighborhoods.

"In a matter of 20 minutes we've got water almost waist deep,â?? Kelley said.

"Every spring it's intense when there's a major snowstorm, or rain I mean, we have to pay attention because as soon as the ditches fill up, it's in the yard before you know it,â?? Mike Quigley, neighbor said.

Quigley and Kelley both live on the 22-hundred block of Samantha Street. They say they have contacted a number of entities in hopes of fixing the problem including the Public Works Department.

â??Basically a creek that comes in from the county runs parallel to the city limits ends up flowing down and eventually goes under Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad tracks,â?? Dir. Larry Seals, Ottumwa Public Works said.

â??Everybodyâ??s pointing the finger at everybody else; everybody in essence is pointing the finger at the railroad, which it is their responsibility to fix it,â?? Kelley said.

Seals says the city has gone through great efforts to protect the levee system and area, but flooding is unavoidable due to the lay of the land.

â??We had several different events that actually topped Second Street, well the levy doesn't protect you, when you have a high enough intensity rain, which we recorded over six inches in a really short duration,â?? Seals said.

As the owner of a car repair shop owner, Kelley wants to see the water issue fixed as soon as possible.

â??You can't work when you're under water, between that and liabilities of other people's cars, you know, you gotta be responsible for that when it's under your care,â?? he said.

"Just fix the culvert,â?? Quigley said. It seems like a simple fix. I donâ??t know what the problem is. Thereâ??s so many people out here and we're all taxpayers. I don't understand why they can't fix this so the flooding won't be so intense."

Thursday afternoon BNSF Director of Public Affairs Amy McBeth gave a statement over the phone stating: "We did become aware of it quite recently actually, and so what we'll be doing is we've been in touch with the landowner there, and we will dig out some of those culverts just as a precaution. They're open right now, but we will come in and dig them out a little bit more to help increase the drainage, and then longer term, we'll do a hydrology study to see if there's some longer term things we need to look at in terms of the drainage in that area."