I live in the Village, Oklahoma. It’s a small municipality located within northwest Oklahoma City around May, Penn, Hefner, Britton. It was raining recently while I was driving down Britton east to Broadway extension. Water was lining up in the streets. I drove right through it. I had no other choice. The water drenched my car to the point where I could not see anything for a few seconds. It was kind of scary but it was only seconds. I was by the infamous drainage ditch by Village Drive, aka: The Village River to locals. It made me wonder, why is the Village prone to street flooding. I went into their history records. It’s a bit storied but not uncommon with new developments – new, as in 1950s new. Picking up in the mid-1950s, here’s a portion from the Village, OK History web page, chapter 13:
As the town (the Village) grew, drainage started to become more and more of a problem. The developers being in total control of the town government from the very outset had not been required to invest in the necessary infrastructure to handle the storm run off. The problem was only exacerbated as more and more neighborhoods continued to spring up. Before long the worsening situation garnered the attention of community leaders including Kenneth Sain who served on the Planning Commission and later as Mayor of the town. Sain initiated a campaign to begin educating his colleagues about the serious drainage problem that existed at Village Drive and Stratford. Sain’s efforts eventually led to a bond issue to address the serious drainage problem as well as other needs of the community. Much to Sain’s dismay, the proposed drainage improvements were not well received by the community and critics loudly ridiculed the plan referring to it disdainfully as “Sain’s Drain”. When the matter finally came to a vote in May of ’54 it, not surprisingly, went down to defeat. The stunning setback would delay further efforts to address this chronic drainage problem until the late ‘50’s.
In October of 1959 a group of citizens descended upon the Council to demand action by the Council to begin addressing the chronic drainage problems along Village Drive. In response to the public outcry, the Council commissioned Phillips & Stong Engineering Company to do a cost study. Their report came back in December. The Council, apparently going numb upon hearing the figures, put the proposed improvements on ice one more time.
By the mid 60’s, the drainage issue would resurface again in a big way. A petition containing the signatures of 122 residents was presented to the Council in September, 1966. Residents again demanded action. Evert Stong, now the City Engineer, was directed by the Council to provide new cost estimates. It might have seemed like déjà vu to some, but this time things were different and the Council was in a position both politically and financially to deliver the goods. Bids were sought the following spring and the first section of the channel south of Britton Road was finally completed in 1967. This initial accomplishment, however modest, set in motion a series of channel improvements which spanned a period of 22 years and culminated in 1989 with the completion of the last section of the channel between Vineyard Blvd and Hefner Road.
For many years the so-called “Village Ditch” provided a habitat for crawdads, snakes and other vermin and, most certainly, was a delight for many a young naturalists. Yet, before the improvements were made, serious flooding occurred along the banks of the ditch from time to time causing considerable
property damage and sometimes endangering lives.
During one notable torrential downpour in 1977, water poured across Pennsylvania Avenue from Casady School and flowed down Dublin toward Village Drive. There the stream converged with a torrent of water flowing down Stratford Drive. The ditch quickly overflowed its banks. The resulting deluge washed parked cars off Village Drive into the unimproved channel carrying them down the channel all the way to the bridge at the south end of the Whispering Hills Apartments. Police Officer Jim Wingert was on duty that day and remembers the raging torrent reaching the doorsteps of homes on Village Drive.
“A female motorist trying to cross the channel at Carlton Way was literallyswept into the channel. She somehow got out of the car and was pulled to safety by nearby onlookers. As the water receded, I remember being amazed as the subsiding waters revealed five submerged cars that had been washed up against the bridge, “ said Wingert.
Flooding continues to be a problem today in parts of The Village despite extensive improvements that have been made over the years. End//
So there you have it! For more on the Village, OK, click here.
And just today, I managed to shoot this from my car on my iPad.