West Texans spend a good deal of their time praying for rain, but heavy rains and downpours have some drawbacks in the city. That's because in Lubbock, when it rains, it floods. And when it rains, it bugs. Two menacing issues the City is trying to get under control.
Lubbock's notorious hassles with poor drainage can be traced back to the City's beginning. But most remember the flood of 1999 most vividly. It paralyzed parts of the city and caused millions in damage.
But now Lubbock has a proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow so to speak. A 39 million dollar drainage project now being tunneled out in a neighborhood near you.
The south-central drainage project is expected to reduce flooding, if not eliminate it all together, in south and central Lubbock. It started in October 2001 and wasn't supposed to be complete until December 2004. But it's about 15 months ahead of schedule. "Right now, we should be finishing up the project in August, completely," says Lubbock's Lead Stormwater Engineer Marsha Reed.
Right now, crews are pushing pipe near 40th and Avenue L, and the last of the man holes are now being dug out and covered again. There are just two stretches of pipeline incomplete. Reed says the project is ahead of schedule in part because of a patient public.
Lubbock also has a new problem related to the rain with mosquitos and the deadly disease they sometimes carry called West Nile Virus. A virus that will now likely become more common in this part of the country.
"It's here and it's here to stay," says Lubbock Vector Control Supervisor Joe Vargas. Vargas says they have traps set-up throughout the county to monitor areas where mosquito infestations are thickest. The traps are already catching bugs here in early spring. The city will continue spraying, but Vargas says West Nile will be back.
"Be prepared. It's coming," says Vargas.
Some tips for you as the seasons change and mosquitos become more of a problem.
*Drain standing water in your yard. Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitos.
*Stay indoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitos are most active.
*Dress in long sleeves if you do have to be out at those times.
*Wear repellent that contains DEET.
And back to the drainage project for a moment. While one is almost finished, another will start next year. It will be an even larger project, 42 million dollars, and it will drain the playa lakes near 98th Street on Lubbock's South side.