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City asks public for input on it's drainage problems

By By Connie Nowlin
Managing Editor
Atmore has had more than its share of flooding problems in recent weeks, but with the help of a federal grant, that problem may be addressed in the near future.
Mayor Howard Shell and staff members of the city wrote a grant proposal requesting monies to help alleviate the problems associated with heavy rainfall.
The grant was completed some 18 months ago, Shell said, and the city received notification in March that it had been awarded.
Several state legislators had a hand in obtaining the grant.
Congressman Jo Bonner came late into the game, his press secretary said.
"He was involved in the extent that he voted to make sure all the dollars (in grant projects) for District 1 were included in the omnibus bill," Matt Rhodes said Tuesday. The grant was written during Sonny Callahan's term.
The award was $1.225 million and was federally allocated through the United States Department of Agriculture.
Shell said the USDA would help survey areas that experience flooding and comp up with a plan that will be effective in dealing with the problem.
He indicated that part of the situation was caused because the Pine Barren watershed was not maintained across the state line, instead being lined with grass and vines. This slows the drainage of areas further up the watershed, many of them near Atmore ball fields.
"We feel like it will solve a good part of our problems," Shell said. "Not all of them, but it's a good start."
The next step in the process will be to hold public hearings to determine the extent of the problem and the damage it causes in times of heavy rains.
That public hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. June 26 at the Atmore City Hall.
"We would especially like to hear from people who have had water in their houses or outbuildings from storm runoff," Shell said.
The Army Corps of Engineers will cooperate with the USDA in both the engineering and construction phases of the program, Shell said, although he did not know how long the survey, engineering or physical construction would take.
While the grant will help solve the drainage problem in Atmore itself, area farmers impacted by the recent deluges are able to apply for federal disaster assistance.
Storms, tornadoes and flooding from May 5 and continuing damaged crops in the area and farmers in Escambia County, Florida may be eligible for the loan program.
Losses may be either physical or production loss, and loan funds may be available to repair or restore damaged farm property and reimburse applicants for expenses they have already paid out for damaged crops or livestock and to produce new crops.
For more information on the federal loan program or to obtain forms, you may contact the Farm Service Agency in the Farm Bureau office on Highway 151 in Molino.