Rains flood streets, rivers

Published 4:13 pm Monday, March 1, 2004

By By Arthur McLean Managing Editor
The storm system that drenched Atmore and the surrounding area this week moved out by Friday, but it left lasting effects throughout Escambia Counties.
Rain gauges at the Atmore sewer plant recorded more than 5.5 inches of rainfall over the course of Monday to Wednesday.
The rain in Atmore hit saturated ground and flooded several city streets. The Atmore Police Department roped off about six trouble spots that usually have trouble draining after a heavy rain, said Atmore Police Chief Jason Dean. Despite the street flooding and heavy rains, there were no serious traffic accidents through Wednesday, Dean said.
Jean Brooks found her Swift Street home in the middle of a lake Wednesday. Water encroached on her home and nearly made it inside.
City crews on Thursday cleared a drainage culvert near the home clearing the problem. "They came out and cleared it out, and the water was nearly gone in 30 minutes," Brooks said.
The rainfall affected city sewer lines. More than 4 million gallons infiltrated the city's sewer pipes, said Kenny Smith, the superintendent of wastewater treatment for Atmore.
Sewage overflows affected several areas, including Trammell Street Lift Station, a manhole at MLK Drive where force a main enters, Summers Drive where a force main enters, the intersection of Wilson Avenue and Ridgley Street, and 2 manholes within the plant yard.
Smith said the overflow stopped at most of the manholes by Thursday morning.
Most of the city's sewer system dates from the 1940s, and old pipes and joints and deteriorated manholes are part of the reason for the stormwater infiltration. Smith said the city has repaired and renovated more than 500 manholes in the past five years.
In other parts of the county, Murder Creek and Corn Creek stayed within their banks, but the Conecuh River overflowed on Thursday into wetlands and unpopulated areas, said David Jennings with the Escambia County Emergency Management Agency.
A flood warning was issued for the Escambia River near Century Thursday, but by Friday, the National Weather Service had reported the floodwaters were subsiding. The river reached nearly one foot above flood stage, but only low-lying wetland areas flooded.
Most long-time residents in Atmore and the area are used to the mild flooding from heavy rains, they said. "This (city street flooding) has been an issue for a long time here," said Jason Dean. "But the city has done a lot of work in the last few years and it's a lot better than it used to be."

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