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Public Services Dept. steps up in wake of storm

The Streets and Drainage Division of Collierville Public Services clears out ditches before the storm.

The residual rain and wind from Hurricane Harvey blew through Collierville on Aug. 31 and between noon and midnight, about 5.65 inches of rain fell on the town.

That figure is the average of the recorded inches at five of Collierville’s rain gauge sites, the heaviest being 6.3 inches. The town has 26 sewer pumping stations, and all but four had high alarm levels with all pumps running.

This activity created a situation where both man and machine were working overtime.

Two pumps at the Nonconnah Pumping Station tripped out due to high amps, but were able to be reset by on-call staff. Two small pumps at the Wolf River Boulevard Pumping Station tripped out, but because the station also has 2 larger pumps, this didn’t affect water flow rates in an adverse manner.

The inflow from street flooding caused sewer overflows in a few areas, but the Collierville Public Services Department/Utility Division staff were prepared with several employees working overtime to handle situations that arose from the water levels rising so quickly. Streets and Drainage staff made the rounds cutting up and removing fallen trees. They also closed a few streets and placed high water signs.

“When we expect a severe weather event, we begin to plan,” said Public Services Director Bill Kilp. “Each division has its own responsibilities to be prepared for. Staff is trained ahead of time so responses can be accomplished quickly.”

Both management and field personnel stayed after normal working hours to provide a successful response. Utilities Director, Tim Overly, was busy evaluating pump stations and manually operating the Town’s computerized sewer pumping system controls while others monitored the event and dispatched calls for service.

Kilp provided an example of some of the duties each division of the Public Services Department provides before events like this: Fleet Services makes sure that all generators, response vehicles and equipment are serviced and fueled; Streets and Drainage check all major drainage ways, clear storm inlets, and ensure that equipment and inventory needed in an emergency situation is ready and available; Sanitation prepares for the storm aftermath of downed trees and large debris by having all of their vehicles fueled and ready for use; Water Treatment checks its generators, wells and treatment equipment to be ready for outages; Waste Water Treatment pumps out reservoirs and verifies that their system controls and alarms are all functioning as they prepare for high infiltration sewer flows; Water Distribution and Waste Water Collection check sewer mains for blockages, flush lines to reduce back-ups, and respond when blockages or overflows occur; and Administration prepares call out logs, organizes response crews and documents problem areas for future reference.

“Our crews are very experienced having prepared for severe storms and clean-up after storms pass through,” Kilp said. “Planning and preparation is key to making sure that our crews are ready and properly equipped. Additionally, the investment the Board of Mayor and Aldermen make in the Town’s infrastructure systems helps in terms of durability and reliability of our systems.”

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