Ironton’s Pemberton fights weather to provide services

Published 9:52 am Thursday, January 29, 2009

City of Ironton employee Mike Pemberton is on the front line in the war against winter weather, a battle he is fighting on three fronts this week.

Pemberton, the city’s superintendent of street, floodwall and sanitation department, has had a busy few days with flooded streets, garbage collection problems and damage to the floodwalls.

Now, he is asking for the community’s help to keep people from further damaging the city’s flood protection system.

Email newsletter signup

“ATVs are tearing up the floodwall levees. It cuts the sod off and creates crevices in the levees,” Pemberton said. “It makes maintenance more dangerous.”

Most of the damage is to the floodwall levees on Moulton Field between Lawrence and Railroad streets.

Signs are posted that declare driving any motor vehicles on the levees is illegal. The Ironton Police Department is actively keeping an eye on levees, Pemberton said.

“If they are caught, there is a stiff fine,” he said. “They could also be responsible for the repair to the levee.

“It creates a maintenance problem and could actually get someone hurt when workers mow and get thrown off the tractor,” he said.

The city is required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to maintain the levees. And any damages will be considered a violation if not corrected, something that could be a costly proposition for an already cash-strapped municipality.

Significant damage could also decrease the effectiveness of the levees if big ruts are created and if water gets against it, with no sod there to hold that, water could possibly breach the levee, Pemberton said.

But the levees aren’t the only thing keeping Pemberton and other city workers busy. Street flooding in areas where the storm basins are filled with ice has also been a problem.

Key areas include North Second and Hicks alley, Orchard Street and 12th Street and Kemp Lane, but those have been addressed, he said.

Now comes the inevitable melting.

“The river not seeing any increase in rise yet. We have some small streams that are at the top of the bank,” Pemberton said. “We will see that in the next 24 to 48 hours when the river starts accepting all that water. It is accepting but we’re not seeing it.”

City crews were out Wednesday continuing to plow side streets in Ironton. They will salt if snow accumulation continues.

If residents have flooding they can call the street department at 532-3814 or 532-8425.

Garbage collection remains on schedule despite the fact that icy conditions have hindered work a bit, he said.