WILMINGTON -- It's a dirty job but someone has to do it. Wilmington's manual ditching crew gets their hands -- and often entire body -- dirty to make sure the storm drainage system doesn't back up and cause you problems. You've seen them hard at work, but probably have no clue what it is they actually do. The manual ditching crew helps maintain the stormwater flow through Wilmington's creeks and estimated 400 miles of ditches. It's not an easy job but it's one George Patrick has been doing for 11 years. At times, he literally gets down and dirty in the muck and mire of a drainage ditch. Patrick said, "We do basically have to put on boots, it's wet and mud and everything get in your face and clothes." But dirt is minor, compared with what this crew can run into while on the job. Manual ditching crew member Michael Eason said, "A lot of times we cut, you can hear a wasps nest and it ain't too good. Can't outrun all those wasps at one time." Mother Nature isn't the only problem this crew deals with. They also pick up after you. Trash or yard debris thrown into ditches can be the extra foliage that causes a flood in your neighbors When many residents are dry indoors they're outside maintaining the stormwater system. Stormwater Services Drainage Manager Harvey London said, "A lot of times there's things we can do to keep water moving just by being out there, and so we reduce a lot of flooding by having crews on hand during storm events." Whether the weather is wet or dry, cold or hot, Patrick and the crew will be on the job. While the manual ditching crew helps keep water flowing freely through public ditches the crew is not responsible for solving the flooding problem that many Wilmington neighborhoods deal with. The City has a master drainage plan where they put problems areas on the list for improvements.
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