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Catch basins clogged with leaves mean flooding across Boston

Clogged catch basin at Commonwealth Avenue and Gloucester Street

Cloggy leaves cover catch basin at Comm. Ave. and Gloucester Street in the Back Bay.

On this rain-soaked morning, Boston's 311 system is filling up with complaints this morning about flooding caused by catch basins blocked by leaves, from Spring Park Avenue in Jamaica Plain to Commonwealth Avenue in Brighton and Kittredge Street in Roslindale, from East 7th and M streets in South Boston to the aptly named Pond Street in Dorchester.

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Well, BTD, and whomever else responsible, have abdicated their street cleaning responsibilities. The resulting flooding is inevitable.

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Voting closed 22

Since you're not from Boston, or apparently anywhere with trees, let me explain that the leaves can come down pretty quickly around here and can't all get cleaned up at once. They'll also have to go around and suck out the leaves that have already gotten through the grating.

And this year we had that early snowfall that nuked a lot of the leaves before the trees were ready, which meant there was a very sudden and early leaf-fall.

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Voting closed 60

We have weekly street sweeping, but if folks don't move their cars the street sweepers can't do their jobs. You want more/better street sweeping? Then ban cars on alt sides of the street and pay more in taxes. If you don't want to do that, STFU and get out there with a rake and a broom and do the curbs in front of your house, if we all did that, no problems! Also, unclogging leaves from a storm drain is SUPER satisfying, giant whirlpool!

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Voting closed 40

Well, I am not bothering cleaning leaves from the streets where BTD does not enforce no parking during street cleaning. Or at any other times.

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We all appreciate your concern.

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Voting closed 27

I can tell you they've re-instituted ticketing on street cleaning days, but not towing. At least in my neighborhood. I know this because I've signed up for the street cleaning alerts through the City's website. So, they are enforcing the no-parking rules.

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Voting closed 11

to go down the block and back with a push-broom and push leaves away from the grate and curb where there was a drain. There is now less water on the road and perhaps will be less chance of flooding. It was easy! You can do it too.

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Voting closed 38

If you want something done, just do it yourself, my sometimes wise grandmother said.

Same thing when it snows and the plows block crosswalks. Just shovel them out if you can. Make it nice for the next person. Burn a few calories.

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Voting closed 13

Someone once told me to get a shovel and stop complaining when I took to Twitter in the winter of 2015 to complain about the lack of shoveling on a busy corner near NU (probably Mass & Huntington). That would have been after I spent about 3 hours doing my driveway, and 3 hours commuting into the city from Braintree. Let me just go turn around, spend 3 hours to get back home, grab my shovel, another 3 hours back in, I'm sure my boss won't miss me...

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Voting closed 7

And bring your shovel with you.

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I did take the T for that week, because driving in seemed like a worse idea.

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Didn’t the red line have a derailment or fire (or both) that week too?

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Something like that. IIRC, the T had system-wide issues because they decided to not run the trains overnight through the snow, as they usually do because it helps keep the tracks clear, then when they tried to start service again, nothing worked. Granted, there was a whole lot of snow and who knows what could have really been done differently that would have guaranteed a different outcome.

Oh, yes, now I remember: https://www.wbur.org/news/2015/02/11/mbta-gm-scott-resigns

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Voting closed 14

Hang on to that whine, the cheese plate is on the way.

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Voting closed 5

If you want something done, just do it yourself, my sometimes wise grandmother said.

Same thing when it snows and the plows block crosswalks. Just shovel them out if you can. Make it nice for the next person. Burn a few calories.

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Voting closed 4

Agreed, Tim Mc.

When I was a kid I walked around in the rain and helped drain flooded streets by clearing gutters of leaves.
Not only did I help to avoid being soaked by passing traffic when I passed that way again, it was almost as fun to clear drains and let the water empty from the streets as it was to build dams on small streams until they gave way. I guess kids don’t play outside anymore ever?

But yeah. Almost had water pour into a basement window when I ran outside with a broom stick and cleared the holes of a slush/ice-blocked drain grate. It took less than two minutes.
I’d get a stiff rake for the leaves, or a stiff push-broom.

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Voting closed 5

Don't bitch when your basement floods or your car stalls out.

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Voting closed 13

of some main roads or in certain neighborhoods in the fall. In my neighborhood, they've not done street sweeping since October before it snowed. Add to that the inconsiderate neighbors that blow their leaves out into the street and this flooding is what happens.

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Voting closed 11

I do rake the leaves in the street. And people do move their cars for street sweeping in my neighborhood. There are still a lot of leaves on days like this.

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Voting closed 11

Like fire hydrants if you have one on your street just go out & clear it out. yes, the city should do it but they don't.

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People have time to submit 311 complaints, but can't put on a raincoat and boots and go clear their local drain?

This may be the biggest warning sign of the downfall of our civilization.

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Voting closed 66

Sometimes the leaves and muck go past the bars, and it doesn't matter that you clear the top of the storm drain, because it's blocked lower down than we can reach.

This reminds me, I sent a report of a clogged storm drain from across my house half a year ago to 311, no leaves in sight right now, yet there is a little pool at at that corner. 311 didn't do anything, but I just figured out I could call BWSC directly and report it, and they said they'd dispatch a crew to check it out.

"If you think a catch basin on your street needs to be cleaned, call BWSC Operations at 617-989-7900."

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Voting closed 32

They aren’t complaints; they are service requests. Having the public be the public works department’s eyes and ears to identify the exact locations of storm drains that are clogged and need to be cleared is pretty much exactly the purpose of the 311 system; the people submitting reports are using the system correctly and are adding value

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Voting closed 55

You call it a service request, I call it a complaint.

What do you think about 311 complaints for a gum wrapper on the sidewalk? Theoretically, the city could send a crew out at great taxpayer expense to pick it up.

Here's where I draw the line: could this be done easily and much more efficiently by a citizen at the scene? If yes --> complaint.

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There are reasons to centralize the data: the 311 system is linked to geographical databases whose purpose is to detect patterns; if it is used correctly, over time the City will know which drains frequently clog and which do not, frequently-clogged drains can be updated with larger catch basins or different runoff management uphill from them, etc.

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Voting closed 24

I see we are on an entirely new field.

Maybe you and I can agree on the following:

(1) it makes sense for people to lodge as many 311 requests/complaints on clogged drains as they want, for the reasons you mention above;
(2) it makes sense for the City to immediately close those tickets without taking action; and
(3) it makes sense for the original requestor/complainer to get out and unclog the drain.

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Voting closed 11

Do we agree on the following?

  1. Reporting a gum wrapper on the sidewalk is a stupid abuse of the 311 system
  2. Reporting something that legitimately needs a truck to roll, like a pothole, or a broken streetlight or a malfunctioning traffic signal or an overflowing or broken trash can, or a large quantity of illegally dumped trash, is pretty much exactly what the 311 system is supposed to be for
  3. A blocked storm drain that is flooding the immediate area is a lot more like the latter than it is like the former.
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Voting closed 11

1. Yes.
2. Yes.
3. No. A storm drain can usually be cleared with a sweeping action of the leg. Even Swirly and her hurt shoulder can muster this.

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Voting closed 11

Let me see if I've got this right. You have taken to the internet to complain about people complaining on the internet. Now you are upset that people are complaining about you complaining about people complaining on the internet on the internet. Maybe you should go clear out some storm drains to blow off steam, because it doesn't seem like the complaining is helping.

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Voting closed 8

Oh, a rose by any other name . . .

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Say you have mobility challenges, have a leg in a cast or you recently had shoulder surgery.

Let us know how you would manage with that.

Plenty of people around are physically unable to go out there and unclog the drains.

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Voting closed 10

I've seen this movie before.

"Well, more people could bike to the stores and then the conversion of car parking spaces into mini-parks and bike parking wouldn't be such an issue."

"Ohhhhhh, won't someone think of the Knight of Ni who doesn't have arms or legs. How is HE going to bike to the store?"

Come off it. Yes, there is a non-zero number of people with physical disabilities who can't clear a drain and instead must rely on 311 to get the city to clear the drain of leaves.

But stop using a tiny minority to derail the discussion. Pathetic.

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But I wouldn't exactly expect someone who uses "lame" as a slur to have any comprehension whatsoever of the prevalence of physical disability in the population.

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Is it your position that all? most? many? a strong plurality? of people are disabled to a degree that they cannot clear most leaf-clogged storm drains?

I've already conceded that a non-zero number cannot. So let's have your position.

If you would answer honestly (ha!), I think we would agree that it's a small percentage of the population. I don't think it's worthwhile to sidetrack a discussion about whether the public should generally be using 311 to complain about leaves by going on about that small percentage. This is what I think you are doing: "Not everyone can unclog a drain so we can't ask anyone to." Get it?

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We don't want anyones Nana out there clearing drains or shoveling our hydrants. Same goes for anyone who has some kind of temp ailment. Say someone just had surgery on an arm and was recovering, no one expects them to pick up a shovel. Get well, there are plenty enough people to fix the issue. The Problem Is when people use these things to excuse their able-bodied self for eternity. (How dare you suggest that? Don't you know how many mobility-challenged people there are!) The new move is just to try to flame someone for being "ableist" for suggesting someone needs to go clean the leaves of the drain. At that point they are just hiding behind the Nanas, hoping to get a free pass.

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Voting closed 8

How about halt instead of lame?
Nah. It’s a mild version of being lame, a limp, not an inability to perambulate.
Crippled is out. Disabled is out because it lacks specificity.
Please tell me the proper adjective.

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Isn't the reason we have fairly strong advocacy for those with disabilities now because of all the time where someone decided that we shouldn't really do anything additional, or just different, because it really only benefits a few people that aren't like the rest of us?

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Big tree falls or giant pothole, fine call 311. Leaves are blocking a storm drain? Get out there with a stick or a rake or a shovel and just move the leaves! As noted above, it's very satisfying and a lot quicker than waiting for the city to respond.

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https://youtu.be/MV9dOHRDb3c

This guy is in Mass and is obsessed about clearing storm drains around his area during/after big storms. He gets some very satisfying whirlpools on camera!

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Voting closed 23

Or maybe you, keyboard warrior, could volunteer to help the elderly people
with bad hips and COPD clear the wet leaves instead of shaming everyone.

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I'm typically very able to do this, but last fall-summer I had an injury that meant that I could not (torn rotator cuff). A couple years before, I had to do all the shoveling and drain clearing and all that because my husband had a broken collarbone.

We are all "temporary abled".

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It was just one example, relax.

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...what kind of a disconnected comeback is that?

Also, saying "relax" to someone who hasn't shown the least sign of being agitated is a jerk move.

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If a waiter fails to bring you the food that you are paying for, for God's sake don't complain to the restaurant about it, just get your lazy ass into the kitchen and cook it for yourself.

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you are not a customer, and taxes are not a payment for goods or services.

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Government is the entity that we the citizens have chosen as the steward and manager and caretaker of the commons, all of which is ours. As with any employer/employee relationship, it is incumbent upon us to exercise oversight and supervision, and to hold government accountable for the proper and effective discharge of its duties.

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I remember as a kid with my siblings and friends using sticks to push the leaves through the holes or if we were feeling spunky, charging neighbors five bucks to rake up. Easy fix with no complaints!

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Forget about it. The one thing 2020 has shown is that government is good at issuing orders and edicts not solving quality of life issues.

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Voting closed 15

By god man, get up off your ass and grab a rake or a broom and make it go away. Take a little ownership in our city. A little effort on our part will go along long way towards world class status.

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