Residents continue to wait while city looks for permanent flooding solution

The backyard of their home was always Marjorie Kangas’ husband’s favorite spot.

The home they bought in 1974 backs up against overgrown green space, full of wildlife, wildflowers and tall, 40-year-old trees.

“Sitting out here, watching the birds, seeing the deer, that was the joy of it,” Kangas said. “Always has been.”

Now, sounds of nature are cut with the sound of the sump pump. It’s a new normal sound for the new normal of flooding, something Kangas said it never used to do there.

The sump pump is part of the normal sounds in Marjorie’s backyard. She moved here in ‘74, and she’s seen flooding become a new “normal” for her neighborhood. She thinks about moving, but until the @CityofMadison puts in a permanent solution, she wonders who would buy her house.

— Amy Reid (@amyreidreports) September 12, 2019

The city of Madison is trying to help with that.

“We are there, and we are actively listening and proactively trying to find out what we can do to kind of create more resilient infrastructure for the future,” said Hannah Mohelnitzky, the spokesperson for the city Engineering Division.

The division has been touring neighborhoods, including Kangas’, learning what’s changed over the years and what it can add that might keep flood impacts to a minimum. It’s part of a major study it started in May that it hopes will end in a city more prepared to handle flooding.

Solutions are still many months away. Mohelnitzky said the division won’t have models for projects until late spring at the earliest.

“This sort of thing takes time,” she said. “Studies and the science and the math and all the designing and everything that goes into making sure that stormwater infrastructure is sustainable and resilient for years to come takes time.”

Kangas said she’s glad the city is doing this, but she hopes the solutions come sooner than later.

Last winter, she lost her husband, and now this backyard he loved is starting to look too big.

“I worry about when I want to sell this what kind of reaction we’ll get and how that will affect the price of my house,” she said. “I’m sure I can say that I’m not the only one.”

She loves her home, and though she wishes the city had planned during development of nearby neighborhoods instead, she knows it can still be a good place to be with solutions the city finds now.

“This is Eden,” Kangas said before correcting herself. “Was. And I think it can be with a little control.”

City engineering is still accepting public input on its study. If you have a flooding concern in your neighborhood, send a picture or description here.

Get your weather forecast from people who actually live in your community. We update with short, easy-to-use video forecasts you can watch on your phone every day. Download the iOS or Android app here.