By CBSNewYork Team

MAPLEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – After a man was swept away and killed by floodwaters during Ida, neighbors are calling for upgrades to an antiquated drainage system.

But those neighbors say they’ve been complaining for years about the problems.

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As CBS2’s Nick Caloway reports, on Maple Terrace, when rain starts to fall, water and anxiety levels tend to rise.

“You know we’re at the base of a mountain. There is tons of runoff. Water gets diverted from other streets onto our street,” said neighbor Alex Clark.

Neighbors say flooding is common in the area, even in regular rainfalls.

During Ida, the flooding turned deadly.

Patrick Jeffrey, 55, a husband and father of two, died while trying to clear a storm drain near his home on Sept. 1. He was swept away into the storm water tunnels below. His body was found the next morning.

Neighbors say Jeffrey would regularly go out and clear the culverts to help the water drain. Residents have been complaining about the flooding for years, and say something should have been done before someone was killed.

“It’s obviously a horrible tragedy. And it’s something that just could have been avoided,” Clark said.

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After all those complaints, why wasn’t something done? Local and state officials won’t say.

The township administrator told Caloway officials are aware of the problem and are working with state officials to address the issue. Beyond that, he had no further comment.

Other town leaders have been told by attorneys not to speak publicly about the issue.

Officials with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection had no comment.

Neighbors told Caloway it seems like local and state officials are passing the buck.

“We are having to have a tragedy occur just to get a spotlight on it. Yeah it’s frustrating,” Clark said.

“And what we need the state to do is let the town take care of the people who live here,” neighbor Fred Meyer said.

Neighbors say climate change will only make the flooding worse, so there’s no time for red tape.

Jeffrey was one of 30 people killed in the state of New Jersey when the remnants of Ida devastated the area.

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Nick Caloway contributed to this report. 

CBSNewYork Team