City working on flooding

Published 1:41 am Monday, December 20, 2004

By By Arthur McLean
Frustrated by repeated flooding in and around Craig Street, about 20 Atmore residents attended a flood meeting at city hall Thursday.
"If you've lived here any number of years, you know certain areas of town flood," said Mayor Howard Shell. "We know you have a problem and we've been working diligently on it."
Eule Screws with the engineering firm hired by the city to asses the problem told the audience they've been studying the problem, but solutions won't likely be easy or quick.
The city received a $200,000 grant to pay for the study, and more money will be needed to implement a solution, Screws said.
"This is a massive, complex problem from a surveying standpoint," Screws said. Two issues seem to lie at the heart of the matter, according to Screws presentation. One is the possibility that more drainage is needed within the city itself. The second issue concerns drainage from Pine Barren Creek and the drainage of a swamp area just across the state line in Florida.
Screws said the firm is still in the preliminary study phase, surveying the area and putting together complex computer models to study the hydrology of drainage in the area. That phase will last another four months, Screws estimated.
It could be summer before solutions are offered and ready to be implemented.
"We're trying to identify all the problem and address as many as we can," Screws said.
Debbie Ferry, a representative from FEMA also addressed the audience, outlining programs that agency has available to homeowners whose homes flood in the rains. Because of the disaster proclamations after Hurricane Ivan, some homeowners may be able to take advantage of FEMA programs that offer to buy or relocate homes. But those programs require matching funds from the city and can be a long process.
None of it seemed to be good news to the audience who wanted something done quickly. "My house floods three times a year," said one woman. Another man asked why the city couldn't do a better job of keeping some drainage ditches clear.
Shell said some drainage ditches were put on private property and the city had limited access and rights to perform maintenance because it did not have an easement.
The day after the meeting, the city signed a contract with the Natural Resources Conservation Service receiving a $50,000 grant from the Emergency Watershed Protection Program to clear storm debris from some drainage areas to improve drainage in and around the city.

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