Water and frustration rise along Bodden Town’s Cumber Avenue

Water from a new drain well floods Daffodil Street as workers adjust the speed on a drilling machine.

Flooding on Cumber Avenue and nearby roads has become a familiar and dreaded sight during rainy season for residents of the low-lying Bodden Town area.

Residents who live along the street say they have complained for 30 years to successive governments about the flooding in the area but are repeatedly told there was no quick fix solution to the problem.

Cumber Avenue sits in a basin and rainwater has nowhere to go once the surrounding ponds fill up, residents say. When this happens, homes and yards along the street are flooded. Development work that has raised the level of land nearby, including the Anton Bodden Drive bypass, the Harry McCoy Park, the Mission House parking lot and home developments, have also added to the problem, they said.

On Friday morning, government minister and Bodden Town East MLA Dwayne Seymour toured some of the hardest hit areas in Bodden Town with National Roads Authority chairman Donovan Ebanks and NRA engineers.

“We traversed the areas of Midland Acres, Belford, Kipling Street, Cumber Avenue and other areas further west of Bodden Town East,” Mr. Seymour said. “We are trying to see the drainage problems, and mainly the deterioration of roads to see what needs priority over other roads in the area.”

Mr. Seymour said they found some major concerns in terms of past applications of road material, which he said would be addressed. He said some roads in the area had not been assessed in a couple of years and had not been as high on the priority list as they should have been.

“That’s why it’s important for us to come out and get a physical look at the roads. It’s very good that we are doing it during the rainy season, so we can actually see what is really needed,” Mr. Seymour said.

The pond was just inches from overflowing its banks on Daffodil Street Friday.

Concerning the flooding issues in Cumber Avenue, Mr. Ebanks said work would be carried out to help mitigate the problem. “If it is successful, then we can do it on a bigger scale. There isn’t any easy fixes to this but we have to try something,” Mr. Ebanks said.

The pond on neighboring Daffodil Street, which plays a large role in flood control for the residents in the area, already seemed to be at maximum capacity Friday morning. Matters were made worse when water started seeping in from behind the Mission House.

Raul Andrews and other residents of Cumber Avenue watched Friday morning as a drilling company installed another deep well in the area. This well should catch water coming off the hill and into the valley, Mr. Andrews said.

According to Mr. Seymour, government has installed around seven drain wells in the area.

Drain wells are designed to drain excess rain and ground water from surfaces such as paved streets and car parks. When storm drains are inundated, neighborhoods and street flooding can occur.

Mr. Andrews also spoke with Mr. Seymour about installing guard rails around the ponds because of their proximity to the road.

Some residents spoke to officials about the possibility of relocating, while others suggested digging the ponds even deeper so they can hold more water. Mr. Seymour said large rocks in the pond could hamper deeper digging.

As residents wait to see just how much more water the ponds can accommodate, all eyes are on Subtropical Storm Alberto, which formed on Friday and is bringing heavy rains to Cayman, increasing the likelihood of severe flooding in the neighborhood.

Resident Twyla Vargas said many suggestions have been made by government officials who visited the area over the years when homes and streets were flooded, such as relocating residents, raising the height of homes, tearing up the streets, putting in more drain pipes and injection wells, pumping, digging out the ponds, or bringing in a drainage engineer.

“So far, that’s all they have been – suggestions,” she said.

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  1. There is a 2008-9 engineering report in the NRA files that describes how to mitigate the issue. The NRA could implement the plans given adequate funding.

    I never was fond of walking around with politicians to “see the problem”. The only thing that does is give politicians campaign time on the public dollar and waste the engineer’s time. To see the problem aerial surveys were used by the engineers to get a holistic view of the affected area.

    Allocate the funds John John and get out of the way.

    • Brian , you are ever so right about the government, it’s hard to believe that the government believes that putting more drain wells would fix this flooding problem, after having 7 already put in and the problem still exist . I don’t know what to say about them . I can also see why you’re not fond of walking around with politicians .

  2. New rules should’ve been implemented to compel people building houses to elevate them up. There are no substitutes for elevation. Google LAhouse resource center. Lahouse is a project of Louisiana State University. It was built to withstand wind,rain and flooding.
    Grand Cayman has no choice when it comes to flooding, but to accept that it is “new normal” . Can low-lying island be saved from rising seas? Should it be saved taking into account that it could be annihilated in not so distant future? Or it can survive a rise of 2 meters by 2100?
    China has already built an artificial island covering 75,000 square yards—about 14 football fields—and including two piers, a cement plant and a helipad, at a land formation called Hughes Reef.
    Or look into a Dutch model. Amsterdam is where the ocean used to be.
    So land reclamation, creating new and expanded territories could be a viable option.

    Meantime, very few existing houses were built to withstand hurricane winds and floodings. What is being done about it? Does CIG have funds to assist residents who would want to reinforce their houses and in some cases elevate them? Are there construction companies that specialise in reinforcement and elevation of residential buildings? If not, isn’t it time to have one?

  3. I’m sure this is a pretty difficult problem to fix, as has been shown by all the previous efforts. It seems this is the inevitable result of building in such a low lying area, and maybe the only permanent fix, as hard as it may be, is relocation, perhaps with Gov’t assistance.

  4. I believe that the flooding problem can be fixed , but it would take someone who understands and know how to fix it . As Mr Seymour said about digging the pond deeper , the rock too big , he’s not the man to fix it , and he should do like Mr Tomlinson said allocate the funds an get out of the way . I believe that the flooding can be fixed , but we need an engineer that understand and know how to fix these kind of flooding issues, and one that cares about the issue rather than the dollars.