'Drain Santa' keeps SE Portland neighborhood's streets flood-fre - KPTV - FOX 12

'Drain Santa' keeps SE Portland neighborhood's streets flood-free

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The intersection and sidewalks along Southeast Stark Street and Southeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard were under several inches of water Monday morning as drivers plowed through and the rain continued to fall – that is, until “Drain Santa” came along to work his magic.

Armed with a rake, a shovel and his beard to keep him warm, Stephen “Mitch” Mitchell got to work clearing leaves and other debris out of a clogged storm drain.

“There it goes,” Mitchell said as he watched the water swirl down into the drain. “It sounds like a jet airplane kinda.”

Mitchell is no stranger to the neighborhood.

“When I go home, he’s out there -- him and his brother,” said Sheridan Fruit Co. Floor Manager Bryon Hanson. “He’s a great person and he helps a lot of people.”

“They call me Drain Santa,” Mitchell said. “I try to get out here early in the morning and clear them before traffic get too bad.”

Not too bad for a 65-year-old man who heads to work afterward.

“I have as many as 30 drains,” Mitchell said. “There’s three to an intersection and I have ten intersections, but I only do about three or four intersections a day.”

Mitchell said his brother inspired him several years ago to help keep the roads and sidewalk clear of flooding. He’s been doing the work ever since.

“My brother is somewhat disabled and he likes to walk up to Shell and he has to go around these larges puddles all the time,” Mitchell said, adding he likes knowing it helps out his fellow neighbors and drivers too.

One nearby restaurant worker said he sees Mitchell nearly each day out there, but he mistakenly assumed he worked for the city.

“I just look at it as community service, “Mitchell said. “Pay it forward.”

“We are really thankful – thankful for him,” Hanson said. “It does get messy when no one comes around and does the leaves for us and there’s a big puddle of water.”

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