More flood damage surfacing: Subterranean blues in Hancock could be occurring elsewhere

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette Montezuma Street in Hancock across from the City Hall is one example of underground flood damage.

HANCOCK — A cavernous hole now prevents access to Montezuma Street in downtown Hancock, an example of previously unseen flood damage.

“It became very obvious in the big storm we had that we had a problem,” said Bill Marlor of the Hancock Department of Public Works. “A lot of areas around the whole town, around the whole area, found the same thing.”

The extent of this newly discovered damage across the Copper Country is as yet unknown, which could be yet another factor supporting a federal disaster declaration.

For Montezuma Street, the tipoff came from the water bubbling out of the ground, prompting an investigation and a little digging.

The pipe in question was found to be damaged and plugged.

The hole in Montezuma Street will likely remain open for the foreseeable future.

“We opened it up and found that the pipe is not repairable, so we have to leave it open so the water will flow until we can repair it,” said Marlor.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding is still awaiting a presidential disaster declaration for the county.

Meanwhile, Marlor says about 90 percent of the streets in Hancock sustained varying degreess of damage although often not immediately visible or dramatic.

Marlor expects more will be revealed with time.

“We still don’t know how many problems that are out there waiting to show themselves that are just under the surface of the street. … So it’s going to be a while before everything becomes normal,” he said.

The unseen projects are just as big as those on the surface, but Marlor counts Hancock among the more fortunate affected areas.

“It’s easy to look across the canal and see how much bigger problems are over there,” he said. “If you put all of our problems in a basket, Ripley’s might come close to all of our problems, just little Ripley. They had big problems all in one concentrated area.”

The crews will also be working on televising the storm sewer, part of a stormwater asset management and wastewater (SAW) grant. The planned project was hemmed up by flooding as the storm sewer was mostly cleaned and ready for televising before the heavy rainfall.