Some roads still closed after weekend flooding
by Shane Dunaway and David Atchison
Several roads reopened but some remained impassable throughout the area after thunderstorms left behind an unexpected amount of water and a trail of damage Saturday.

Scott Murphree, alert notification manager for the Talladega County Emergency Management Agency, said motorists have resumed using Alabama 21 near Munford, Eastaboga Road, Brickstore Road and Curry Station Road. Silver Run Road is still closed.

Talladega City Manager Brian Muenger said there was substantial private property damage and some damage to city property, including the Brecon Recreation Center.

He said a section of Tinney Street near Norfolk Southern Railroad collapsed after storm waters swept a drain pipe from underneath the street.

“Luckily, we noticed this happening well in advance,” Muenger said. “When we checked on the street, nearly 40 percent of the road was left unsupported. We had the road barricaded before it collapsed.”

A similar situation occurred on Woolfolk Road. According to Murphree, a section of the road collapsed after the waters carried away three drain pipes.

Gary Brown, who lives on the eastern side of the creek on Woolfolk Road, constructed a foot bridge across the creek so he could visit his daughter on the west side of the creek, but the waters swept the pipes into the bridge.

“Now I have to drive 14 miles to my daughter’s home and I can throw a rock and hit it from where I live,” Brown said.

Muenger praised agencies in the city for their efforts during and after the flooding.

“Our emergency responders were well equipped for this event, maintaining boats and other useful equipment to facilitate the evacuations and rescues,” Muenger said. “Our public works personnel did well clearing debris and managing their duties.”

As the city was flooded, firefighters were flooded with tasks, including evacuating more than a dozen residents from flooded homes and rescuing more than a dozen motorists from vehicles.

“We understand that some of the residents affected were handicapped,” Muenger said. “We maintain a list of certain people within the community and we conduct welfare checks to ensure they are safe.”

Not everything was perfect and Muenger mentioned several problem areas, including sewage backing up into some residents’ yards and storm water infrastructure lacking the capacity to handle the amount of water drenching the city.

He said the city manager’s office is roughly 80 percent complete on a storm water system study and his office will be actively doing everything possible to help improve the system.

“Events like this provide a large demonstration on the worst-case scenario,” Muenger said. “It was an extremely high-volume rain event. We’ve seen water levels rise in places we’ve never seen it rise in 15 years.”

In St. Clair County, Alabama 174 remains closed after the road collapsed when storms washed away a corrugated steel drainage pipe from underneath the state highway.

A portion of Alabama 174 collapsed between Bowman Circle and Mineral Springs Road Saturday morning after the torrential rains late Friday night and early Saturday morning.

A spokesperson for the Alabama Department of Transportation said workers will install a stronger concrete pipe, and the road is expected to reopen late Wednesday.

Pell City Police Chief Greg Turley said Street Department workers were forced to close numerous city roads Saturday, but waters receded and all roads were reopened by late Saturday.

“It caught us off guard,” Turley said Monday.

He said the Street Department did a good job getting the streets reopened.

Turley said a section of U.S. 78 was closed after a vehicle was stranded in standing water along the highway near the WFHK radio station. He said the state helped barricade that section of the highway.

He said the flooding also forced the cancellation of LakeFest, but the Bassmaster Southern Open tournament went on as planned Saturday.

“I hated it for the LakeFest and the fishing tournament,” Turley said. “…We did not have any lake (level) problems.”

He said Logan Martin Lake reached about one foot above the normal summer pool because of the rain.

Sylacauga and Childersburg reported strong rain, but no weather damage during the weekend’s storms.

“As far as I know, we didn’t have any damage,” Sylacauga Police Capt. Kelley Johnson said. “We had no reports or calls, and I haven’t heard of any damage around town.”

Home staff writer Emily Adams contributed to this report.

© 2013