Madison looking for drainage solutions, bracing for more flooding

MADISON, N.C. -- People in Madison are asking town leaders for a solution to the drainage system problem, after flooding damaged downtown homes and businesses twice in the past three weeks.

Town leaders say the problem lies with the storm drains themselves and not the pipe system underneath the streets. The drains get clogged with water and debris during storms, which lets water back up, flooding the businesses downtown.

People in downtown Madison are fed up with the rain.

A sign posted outside Madison Art & Frame in downtown Madison. (Carly Hildyard/WGHP)

"It's definitely emotionally draining. Every time we hear a crack of thunder, every time the sky gets a little dark, we're all on edge," Danny Smith Jr. said. He and his family run a furniture business in downtown Madison.

"You see the pain in their eyes getting hit a second time and you're thinking, here we go again," Mayor David Myers said.

Town leaders handed out sandbags after water flooded downtown Madison for the second time since May 31 this weekend. But they need to fix its drains to keep the town from taking another hit.

"This is a band-aid fix to what is really needed -- a long-term solution," Myers said.

"It's just getting to the point where it's happening too frequently and you don't have time to recover," Smith added.

NCDOT engineers will be in Madison Thursday, figuring out how to improve the drainage system.

"Do we need more? Do we need to make them bigger? Do we need reflectors?" Myers said.

But the town needs money to make it happen.

"It's not going to be cheap," Myers said.

It will likely cost more than $1 million, a steep price tag for a town of 2,200 people, with only about 1,100 tax payers.

But business owners also don't have the money to keep paying for damage out of pocket. Smith says he doesn't think any businesses downtown have flood insurance.

"All of the businesses downtown are locally owned and operated. There aren't any corporations, so it hurts a little bit more when these damages occur," said Chelsea Joyce, the manager at the Mad Beach.

"Wherever the money's got to come from, there's a lot of businesses down here that need it," Smith said.

Business owners say a change needs to happen to keep Madison growing and to keep businesses around.

"We want a new system. We want it fixed," Smith said. "We want them to do whatever's necessary to help the businesses downtown, because if they don't and we start moving elsewhere, the town can't afford for us to move somewhere and we can't afford to keep paying for this."

Myers said the town has filled out the paperwork to declare a State of Emergency and says he notified Rockingham County and state officials that he plans to file. A State of Emergency will allow Madison to possibly qualify for state or federal funds to help people affected by the flooding.