How Bloomington reacted to last month’s extensive flooding, and how the disaster affected infrastructure improvement plans, continues to dominate public discussions among city guides.
On Monday evening, much of the Bloomington City Council full committee meeting focused on the June 24-25 floods. Council members are trying to solve the puzzle of financing the separation of sewer and plumbing lines, especially in older parts of the city.
For the second straight week, nearly a dozen residents of the Eastgate neighborhood on the east side of the city spoke during public commentary. Several urged Bloomington to speed up plans to separate the lines in that neighborhood, and others in similar distress.
The face-to-face meeting on Monday at the government center was also broadcast live on YouTube.
Public Works Director Kevin Kothe gave a presentation on the city’s initial response to the emergency situation over the weekend. He said the devastation wasn’t confined to Eastgate. It is widespread, he said.
“We had people in a whole corridor through the core of Bloomington with significant assistance from both the combined sewers of more than 1.6, even 2.7 feet – and the surface flooding. Both, ”he said.
Kothe demonstrated this with maps showing where the more than 500 reports of flood damage occurred. He also shared overpass images captured with a drone camera showing widespread flooding in several areas of Bloomington, including near downtown, and in more rural settings such as along Ireland Grove Road.
He said the heavy rains had caused more than two dozen burglaries and sinkholes in Bloomington as well.
Kothe asked questions about the mixed water overflow that occurs in such systems. The overflow refers to the leakage of the combined systems’ backups into a body of water, he said. He said the problems are complex and the increasing problems are common in parishes the size of Bloomington.
“There is no quick answer to any of this,” said Kothe.
City manager Tim Gleason said Kothe staff is collecting and analyzing data on the June floods. This will be communicated to the council over the next month, he said.
Gleason said this week that PMA, the third party handling claims against the city, is expected to send decisions to the more than 500 homeowners and business owners in Bloomington who have filed flood claims.
He also said the flood-related bulky waste collection from public works should be completed by Wednesday, and flood-damaged bulky waste collections will continue as needed.
Crisis advisor for emergency calls
On an unrelated matter, the Council discussed the possibility of establishing a program to send on-call mental health counselors with police or fire service first responders.
However, since Governor JB Pritzker was expected to sign new laws related to this idea, the council decided to wait and review the proposal at its committee meeting in August.
Ward 1’s Jamie Mathy, who suggested the idea, said the state has cut funding over the years to support mental health issues and shift the crisis response to three groups: teachers, firefighters and police. He said a new program could look into when crisis advisors should be deployed. He said the city could work with a local nonprofit like PATH Crisis to develop a trial period.