Local News

Durham business owner blames city storm drain for flooding

Posted May 15, 2011
Updated May 16, 2011

— A Durham business owner said a backed-up storm drain is the reason water rushed into a restaurant and office building on University Drive Saturday, and he's waiting on the city for a fix.

Scott Howell owns Nana's restaurant, at 2514 University Drive, and an office building next door. He said a heavy downpour caused flooding 3 hours before the restaurant was set to open for its biggest night of the year – graduation at Duke University.

Howell said it's not just the rain that caused the flooding. In 2008, he signed a contract with the city to have a culvert in front of his property fixed and the storm drain re-routed.

Durham businesses dry out after flooding Durham businesses dry out after flooding

But the city and state are still working out who owns the drain, he said.

"We've been going around in circles for 3 years after I signed the papers," Howell said. "Think about how many years it took me to get to that, so it's been about 6 years ongoing, at least 6 years."

Howell said he agreed to pay the city $15,000 over 8 years at 9 percent interest and has already made an initial payment of $1,837, but the work hasn't been started.

"So I give you my money and you're not going to fix what we agree on? I don't understand that," he said.

City spokeswoman Beverly Thompson said a pending permit from the Department of Transportation that would tie the culvert into the state's storm water system is the reason for the delay.

She declined to comment on when that permit is expected.

The staff at Nana's was able to clean up the water and mud that flooded its kitchen in time for dinner service, but with more rain expected this week, Howell said he can't afford to wait any longer on a drainage solution.


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  • btneast May 17, 2011

    I agree 3 years is a long time, but there is probably more to the delay than they are telling us.

    Like maybe gathering dust on someone's desk? This guy is a Durham taxpayer too....and the city has taken his money for work they promised to do, years ago. No one in Durham city government wants to make any hard decisions....but they will issue a proclamation about injustices all over the world in a heartbeat...

  • btneast May 17, 2011

    there's a lot of good going on and infrastructure updates, major businesses ARE in Durham. IBM, Bayer, Sumitomo, Glaxo, Pfizer etc..

    Lol, yes, they are technically in Durham county....just barely. They consider themselves as being in RTP, which they are adjacent to. The overwhelming majority of those that work out there will tell you they work in RTP, not Durham. As far as infrastructure updates....they are minimal at best. The American Tobacco campus is old news.....walk 3 blocks from there in any direction....if you dare. There are some good aspects to Durham, but you are hiding your head in the sand if you don't think it has some serious work yet to go.

  • mswayze May 17, 2011

    1837$ would have bought a nice bunch of concrete dams I do believe- probably a little asphalt for the parking lot in back too.

  • superman May 16, 2011

    Consider moving the location. It wont get any better! It is like buying something-- they real nice and friendly and take your money. After that they tell you like a car dealer told me--"Well I lost money on the new car I sold you yesterday". It broke down on me the first day I drove it-- had to have it towed to the Ford dealership where I bought it. Brand new car and it broke down the second time I drove it.

  • elyhim2 May 16, 2011

    I wonder if there are flush trucks or root cutters in this years budget for Public Works ( I think they have one truck)? I wonder if Public Works has a maintenance plan for the City's storm drains and whether they are on schedule for cleaning them? I'm pretty sure all the storm drains are GPS'd and available on the City's website (doing business/online mapping/gomaps). I wonder if there is documentation on the last time your local storm drain was cleaned? As we face heavier rainfall amounts storm water will become a bigger and bigger concern.

    As for Durham in general, there's a lot of good going on and infrastructure updates, major businesses ARE in Durham. IBM, Bayer, Sumitomo, Glaxo, Pfizer etc..

  • missingVA May 16, 2011

    As someone who pays taxes in Durham, I'm glad they are not spending my tax local money to fix something that may belong to the state. I agree 3 years is a long time, but there is probably more to the delay than they are telling us.

  • beemer May 16, 2011

    Durham doesn't want businesses - it wants public housing to fill up the city. They are EAGER to build public housing but do nothing to help the people that bring business to the city and taxes to the City.

  • turtledove May 16, 2011


  • turtledove May 16, 2011

    I feel his pain. The ditch beside my house kept flooding every time it rained and so did the drain in the yard. The city kept saying it was my problem. After making a big enough stink come to find out a drain down the street had huge tree roots growing and blocking the drain which is why the drain near myself and my neighbors kept flooding. Sorry city of Durham I was right and you were wrong it was your problem not mine! People don't want to take ownership of problems when there is money involved. I wouldn't have minded paying IF IT WAS MY RESPONSIBILITY! If its the city they have to handle it. That's what my taxes are for so I'm still paying for it anyway!

  • btneast May 16, 2011

    This is the kind of stuff that gives Durham the bad rep it can't seem to shake off. This is one of the reasons you don't see many high profile or large businesses locate in Durham.