Storm water pond dedicated in memory of woman who drowned

SEATTLE -- A ribbon cutting marks the completion of a storm water pond. But this particular one includes a sculpture dedicated to the memory of Kate Fleming.

As her partner of 10 years, Charlene Strong, arrived for the ribbon cutting, she stopped to lay flowers on the memorial to Fleming.

Known professionally as Anna Fields, Fleming was one of the country's most talented narrators of audio books. But in 2006, she was trapped in her basement recording studio and drowned when an intense rain squall pushed through Seattle during the Hanukkah Eve storm.

Over the years, the city settled lawsuits with residents in the Madison Valley who claimed it was responsible for massive flooding in their homes. The Madison Valley had a history of flooding and sewer backups and the city said it was working on a fix when Fleming drowned.

Seattle has now spent more than $34 million to design and build this storm water project.

"This project and the memorial is about the community to restore that this community can be about everything you need," Strong said.

The sculpture, located at the east end of the project reads: "Be a light. Be a flame. Be a beacon."

"(Fleming) was a teacher on so many levels," Strong said. "Very smart woman. Very theological, deep thinking woman."

At first denied access to see Fleming in the hospital, Strong did get a chance to say goodbye. And then she fought tirelessly for equal rights for lesbian and gay couples. Now she fights for the community she and her partner once called home.

"And that is what today is about," Strong said. "Restoring the community and bringing us back together and hopefully never seeing a tragedy like this ever again."

The memories of her partner are still so painful Strong said she rarely comes back to Madison Park, but she said she hopes with time, the memorial gives her a sense of peace.
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