A South Surrey resident says her house was flooded Thursday morning. (Contributed photo)

South Surrey resident blames city after house floods

Marilyn Molter said debris from city-planted maple trees easily clogs street drains

A South Surrey homeowner said a “cascade” of water flowed into her house last week, and she blames the City of Surrey for not taking action after she repeatedly raised concerns about street drainage.

Madrona Drive resident Marilyn Molter said her basement was flooded early Thursday morning.

At approximately 6:30 a.m., Molter said she woke up to the sound of what she thought was someone breaking in. When she looked out her window, she saw “sheets” of water flowing off her roof.

“In the break I could look at the street… and you couldn’t see the street. All you could see was a moving street and the water running like a river down our driveway,” she told Peace Arch News Sunday.

As their sump pump kicked in, Molter’s husband ran outside in his boxers to unclog the street drains.

“Our sump pump was overwhelmed,” she said, adding that the water burst through her door.

“It was like seeing a dam, slowly, start to break. It was just little droplets then it just came flooding in through the seals and everything. We had a foot of water break through.”

Because they had experienced minor flooding before, Molter said they had some valuables placed on six-inch blocks, but it wasn’t enough.

“We had a chest freezer that floated, it was just banging against everything.”

Molter said they were storing furniture that belonged to her late-mother and a number of irreplaceable items such as photographs of her grandmother and mother when she was a kid.

About 10 years ago, Molter said, the city removed a number of cherry trees from Madrona Drive and replaced them with maple trees that have now grown to 40 feet tall.

Drainage on the street has only become an issue within the last four years, she said, as the maple leaves reached 30 cm in width. Now, whenever there is rainfall, the street drains quickly clog with maple leaves.

“There has to be some onus on the city when they contribute to the resident’s damage to their house,” she said.

Over the last few years, Molter said she raised the concern with the City of Surrey. The city sent someone to investigate a couple years back, she said. She said she was told by the city that an upgrade to the storm drains was not warranted because the street meets the requirement of one drain per six houses.

Contacted Sunday afternoon, the City of Surrey has not yet responded to PAN request for comment.

Now, Molter fears the upcoming fall season, when more leaves reach the ground. She’s concerned that if she receives frequent floods, her home will no longer be insurable.

SEE ALSO: $76 million pledged for coastal flooding mitigation in Surrey

“It’s not quite fall yet and they’re still green. We’re just looking and going, gosh, in another month, this is going to be horrific.”

Molter said she’s looked at all possibilities, including leveling off her driveway with concrete.

“I can’t even imagine what that would cost, and then I wouldn’t be able to use my lower level because you can’t go in and out.”

Molter said the City of Surrey does a lot to facilitate new developments and neighbourhoods, however, it’s doing little to protect existing development and neighbourhoods.

“The city just doesn’t get it. They’ve done the minimum, one drain for six houses, don’t need anymore. They don’t include any of the factors that happened, that will happen, with Mother Nature, with living here, how the Earth changes.”

Molter, who has lived in the house since 1986, said she grew up on a farm, enjoys her yard and has no intention of selling and moving into a condo.

“That’s how I’m going to be carried out – feet first.”

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