Local News

Durham business owner blames city storm drain for flooding

Posted May 15, 2011 9:13 p.m. EDT
Updated May 16, 2011 10:50 a.m. EDT

— 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.

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.