Decatur awaiting damage assessment during dry-out

DECATUR, Ala. - Officials have not yet conducted a damage assessment in Decatur because problem areas are still underwater, and they're hoping waters begin to recede before more rain later this week. Meanwhile, they know damage clean-up could become expensive.

Monday, Decatur Utilities said Decatur and its surrounding areas experience almost 10 inches of rainfall over the past week. The Tennessee River/Wheeler Reservoir exceeded the 100-year flood level, causing drainage issues and high water around the area.

Decatur identified Country Club Road, Stratford Road, Point Mallard, and properties near the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge as the most impacted places.

Point Mallard

"I think they said 80% of the golf course is underwater and almost 100% of the campgrounds, half of the soccer field and going up behind the skating rink," said Paige Bibbee, Decatur City Council President. "It's very close to that building. It hasn't receded much. The damage there at the campground I know will be significant. And I'm sure the golf course as well."

She said once the water recede, they will leave behind a mess. Then officials can properly assess the damage. Bibbee said it could be weeks before the park is dried out.

"Thursday we are expecting more rain, so that could be a while," she said.

And there's no telling when the closed campground and golf course can reopen.

"That's going to be a process there," she said. "I would say for the golf course, it's going to be late spring before we can even be ready to start golf there."

The campground will take time too. But keeping it closed means the city will lose out on revenue.

"The campground alone which, I'll be very honest with you, is a big revenue maker for the city and for Point Mallard," Bibbee said. "It's totally shut down. We're looking until that recedes, which could be a week or so, but then you have cleanup. But before cleanup you have to make sure nothing has breached sewer and all the electrical is ready to go. I would say at least a good hard month, and we are going to have to pay overtime for that. It's going to be expensive."

She said many people have been out trying to play in the water at Point Mallard, but she advises against it.

"We are trying to keep people out of that area, and that's been tough to do," she said.

Country Club Road

Country Club Road is another flooding area. It is a known problem area in Decatur.

Leaders know there is still debris that needs to be cleaned up there.

"Once it goes over the road, you can get all kinds of debris that has to be cleaned up. We have been so busy. We've gotten it out of the road, but haven't necessarily picked it up to take it to the landfill. That process will take a while too," said Bibbee.

That road is a route many commuters take to go through the city. But now there are barricades over the part connected to Fairway Drive. The water comes over the road and through yards, even up to homes in some spots.

Cameron Buurma talked with WHNT News 19 as he turned around at the barricade.

"I drive through here quite often, and I've never seen the water quite this high," he said. "I obey the signs. I don't want to take any chances."

We caught some drivers going around the barricades. Police and utility personnel ask you not to do that.

"If there is water over the road, and you think you know that road, it still has a current underneath it. We want people to turn around and not go around the barricades," said Bibbee.

Meanwhile, drivers like Buurma will keep hoping the water recedes soon.

"So we can drive wherever we need to get without making any detours or taking chances of the flooding," he said.

Potential Flood Impact

Decatur city leaders uploaded the most recent flood maps to outline the flood potential impact in case waters rise in the future.

They encourage homeowners and residents to check their area to see what the map looks like in their area. You can do so by clicking here.

The Decatur City Council showed the maps to the public at a meeting Monday.

"Some people really don't take things seriously until a thing like this happens," Bibbee said of recent rains. "We just want to let residents know where you are in this situation. It's a great thing living by the river, but there are situations like this that sometimes become dangerous. We want that homeowner to know where they are on that scale."

The flood plain was adjusted over the summer. Some things have changed. The maps show flood lines for various levels of flooding, and how a major flood stage may affect you.

"Residents have asked in the past, 'Why wasn't I informed that my house was going to flood?'" she said. "This is not to upset anyone, but it is to inform them."

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.