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Your city needs YOU -- to grab a rake and help clear out your own street storm drains!

ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - In Woodstock, Mary Frazel and her daughter Ruby use rakes to keep the grated storm drain in front of their house free from leaves. Those in Inner Southeast who might find themselves concerned about clogged curbside storm drains – which can lead to street flooding and messes that are especially difficult and hazardous for pedestrians and bicyclists – are informed by the city that they can be part of the solution.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) advises that it's not too late – in fact, winter is just beginning! You can "adopt a storm drain"! Maybe you have already accepted responsibility for clearing leaves and other clogs from a storm drain near your house or apartment, but if not, now is the time.

Many deciduous trees have already lost their leaves, but some – like sweetgum – can shed into mid or late January. Fallen leaves and other debris can clog storm drains and cause standing water at curbs and intersections. And snow and ice can also seriously clog these street drains after a winter storm.

Social media and television news have covered this topic and requested residents to help out, but there is still need. The city can't do it by itself. There is no signing up, no red tape – just a personal commitment to help out. And the reward? The satisfaction of helping your neighborhood.

With 58,000 storm drains in the city, Portland's Bureau of Transportation takes care of thousands each month, but needs help with the remaining grated street drains it can't get to.

"This is bigger than the Bureau can handle, so it's good to have property owners and residents help out," says Dylan Rivera, PBOT spokesperson. "And snow and ice can obstruct storm drains too, so in that case we ask residents to use a shovel to clear the drain."

Rivera points out that the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management has asked Inner Southeast Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET) leaders to notify NET members if help is needed with storm drains. NET people help out when a neighbor is unable to clear the drain. In early November Mark Ginsberg, Woodstock NET Team Leader, informed members that they had been asked by the city to help with drains, and several did go out to clear away leaves.

A few tips on how to keep streets safe and un-flooded:

· Inspect the storm drain near your residence when rain is forecast to see if it is clogged by leaves, mud, blossoms (in the spring), evergreen needles, or branches.

· Dont rake leaves into the street unless you are in a leaf zone where leaves are picked up by the city for a fee. (Check with the city at 503/865-5323 to determine if you are in a leaf service zone.)

· Place leaves or other tree debris in your green yard debris roll-cart for curbside pickup. If there is too much for the cart, get a brown paper yard debris bag (not plastic) from your hardware store and put it next to the roll cart, usually for an extra $3.75 pickup fee per bag.

· It may seem obvious, but use a rake or shovel, not your hands. Some gutters have pieces of debris you dont want to encounter with hands.

· Clear approximately ten feet on each side of the storm drain.

· If the catch basin below the drain is still clogged after removing surface debris, let the city take care of it. Call Maintenance Dispatchers at 503/823-1700, or e-mail  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Pedestrians, bicyclists, and your neighbors will all appreciate your help!

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