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Maintenance crews opening storm drains

Snow covers part of a storm drain on street in Morris on March 13. The drained is marked with red paint on the curb. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times1 / 2
Water runs through cracks in the snow toward a storm drain on a Morris Street March 13. City workers in Morris and Hancock have been clearing snow from storm drains in anticipated of predicted rain and snow on March 13 and March 14 and because of melting snow. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times2 / 2

If the water from the expected rain from today, March 13, and tomorrow, March 14, isn't pooling excessively on city streets in Hancock and Morris, it's because maintenance crews spent much of the past three days clearing snow and ice away from storm drains.

"We were at it all day yesterday, (March 12) and we got a lot opened up," said Jim Dittbenner, the public works director in Morris. "We concentrated on the ones where there was (water) ponding behind them."

"For two days straight, yesterday and today," Hancock maintenance supervisor Adam Hanson said on March 12 about clearing storm drains.

Hanson said, "It's best to target the ones that will be troublesome."

"Today was a good day for chopping away (ice and snow): I could see if the water was running," Hanson said.

The storm drains were being cleared so that rain and melting snow do not pond on streets and create flooded areas. The National Weather Service has issued flood watch for the area until 7 p.m., Thursday, March 14. The NWS said expected rain and melting snow could cause flooding in streets, roads and low areas.

"We feel pretty confident we are ahead of the game," Dittbenner said on the morning of March 13. "I think we will be in pretty good shape."

Dittbenner reminded residents that if the city gets some street flooding if it gets two inches of rain an hour. Now, because there is a lot of snow melting and rain, there may still be periods when water does pond on a street, he said But because many drains are open, the water won't be sitting for long.

City residents may be able to see open drains in each town, but water may still be draining to the storm water drain even if it can't be seen.

"There is a lot of water draining under the snow banks," Dittbenner said. "If no water is ponding there, they are draining."

Although many storm drains in Morris may be tagged with red paint on the curb, those red tags can't be seen under several feet of snow, Dittbenner said.

"We have been using a metal detector to locate them," he said.