Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed visits Peoplestown to discuss flood prevention

As torrential rain soaked the playground outside the Rick McDevitt Youth Center on Monday night, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed met with Peoplestown residents to discuss the city’s response to flooding in the low-lying neighborhood south of Turner Field.

Reed said the city may have to spend between $25 million and $30 million for a retention pond — a long-term, hopeful final solution to the flooding that periodically dumps stormwater runoff into backyards, basements and parked vehicles.

“What I am committed to doing is stopping the harm that is being done,” Reed said. ” I want people to know that I’m not trying to do it on the cheap. I am going to leave this office with this problem solved even if it cost $25 million to $30 million.”

Massive flooding in July led to television coverage of the damage from foul-smelling water. Reed has visited Peoplestown three times since to discuss the city’s preventative actions, including cleaning of affected homes, erosion control, street sweeping to remove debris that can clog pipes.

Reed said he hoped the city could devise a less expensive fix than a retention pond. The city is studying a number of different options over the next year, he said. But a big constriction project might be necessary, the first-term mayor said.

Resident Kevin Lynch said his home had been fouled by untreated sewage, and worried aloud about the health effects.

‘Some of us are raising children in homes that are repeatedly flooded by untreated sewage,” he said. “If there’s a solution on the table now…I think we deserve to know what it is.”

Some of the several dozen residents asked pointed questions about whether the city did enough to prevent runoff from the stadium area or involve the neighborhood planning unit in discussion. Reed promised to come back within 45 days.

“Everything we can reasonably afford, we are going to do,” Reed said.