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Reduce the chances of flooding at your home

Mendon resident Shannon Hurley’s basement experienced severe flooding in 2021, but there have been no issues since installing French drains and sump pumps. Photo courtesy of Shannon Hurley

By Linda Chuss

Many basements in Mendon and Upton experienced flooding in December and January, due to intense rain and ground that was already saturated. According to Mendon Fire Chief Jason Bangma, “On December 18, we received about 30 flooding reports. In the previous four years, we had only one or two per year. Most of the flooded basements had sump pumps, but they didn’t work due to power outages.” 

Flooding, like that seen January 10 on Providence Street in Mendon, also damages basements. Photo courtesy of Nicholas Miller


These incidents pose a safety hazard, can damage household items, floors, and walls, and sometimes lead to mold. Recovery is costly and time consuming. Even after making expensive repairs, residents worry flooding may recur.

Homeowners can take actions to help minimize flooding and damage. Among the most effective is having the property grading assessed. Bangma advised, “If needed, regrade so the pitch diverts water flow away from the home.”

Maintaining effective drainage is another valuable preventive measure. Upton Fire and EMS Chief Michael Marchand said, “Make sure gutters are in place, clear of debris, and pointing water away from the house.” Another measure is adding French drains around the house. Bangma added, “As for municipal storm drains and culverts, the highway department clears out leaves and debris, but if you see any that need clearing, let them know.” 

Shannon Hurley, a resident and realtor in Mendon, knows how important it is for homeowners to prevent flooding. She shared her own flooding experience. “We had some flooding for a few years, but then in 2021, we came back from vacation to find a foot of water in the basement. Pressure behind the foundation caused leaks in the walls. We ended up installing a French drain system and double sump pumps and haven’t had an issue since. Our best investment ever!”

“Sump pumps are helpful, with caveats,” Marchand said. “Make sure your sump pump is properly cleaned and serviced. Plus, you need a plan if the power goes out. Battery backups usually don’t provide enough power – you’ll want a generator to use the pump during a power loss. And have a backup pump of equal size for the big storms.”

Marchand advised anyone new to their home to prepare for potential flooding, adding, “Even if you’ve been in a home for years and never experienced flooding, pay attention to nearby construction projects, even a neighbor putting in a pool. Changes like that can result in flooding to your home.”

While a flooded basement may become an emergency and require fire department assistance, those calls often come at a time when first responders are also addressing more critical issues, like downed wires and vehicle accidents. Taking steps to prevent flooding is better for public safety and significantly benefits homeowners.