by S. David Ross
People can look on their county’s websites to find if their home is located in a flood plain. This is a low-lying area located near a stream/creek/river/pond/lake. These bodies of water can overflow their banks/borders when rain falls more quickly than the ground and bodies of water can move the water away from the area.
Properties and homes also can flood when water from roads flow onto low-lying areas rather than going into storm drains or swales and drainage ditches. This happens when swales fill with debris like leaves, branches, grass clippings and other yard waste. In the same way, leaves, branches, grass/weeds growing into gutters, and other yard waste can cause puddles on the sides of roads and at blocked storm drains. These puddles can go over the curb and flow to the low-lying homes.
In the freezing weather, these puddles become ice rinks. Both people and cars can slip on the ice causing accidents.
The community can help prevent these accidents and floods by spending a few minutes a week clearing leaves from the roadway gutters, storm drains and swales. The leaves can be swept/raked/kicked onto the grass side of the curb, into bushes beyond the curb, put into bags/containers to be collected as yard waste, or put into a compost pile. For outdoor pets, these items also make bedding where they can stay warm when the ground is hard and/or cold.
Most cities and towns sweep the streets a couple times a year, but they can’t collect every leaf from every road. They can use the help of those citizens able to help – especially those whose trees drop their leaves.