Visitor center’s interior completely washed out by floodwaters

Northeast Alabama
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DEKALB COUNTY, Ala. – Even though much of the water near Wills Creek in Dekalb County has cleared, it left a mess both inside and outside businesses.

Floodwaters hit hard overnight

The Tourist Information Center in Fort Payne is one of those businesses. On most days, anything you need to know about Fort Payne can be found there, but not now after Sunday night’s storms.

“We had a terrible flood,” said Dekalb County Commission Maintenance Director Craig Shelton. “We measured 33.5 inches inside our tourist building here. It’s 44 inches on the outside walls.”

The walls could only keep out some of the water.

The damage is done

“And we have gone almost to nothing,” said Dekalb Tourism CEO John Dersham.

Dersham said the flood destroyed $40,000 dollars worth of travel guides, not to mention all the other damage the high water caused.

The damage on top of COVID-19

The pandemic has disrupted the tourism industry across the county and here in Fort Payne the visitor center has suffered even greater loss.

“It will have to be completely remodeled and stripped out,” said Shelton.

The furniture was soaked, the computers were water-logged, and the cost is unknown.

“It puts us out of business as a visitor center,” said Dersham.

What the future looks like

Shelton said, “It will be a long time before it’s open.”

It’s too early to know what exactly it will take to reopen.

The Dekalb County Economic Development Authority shares the building with the Tourist Information Center. The authority said some of its computer files were backed to the cloud, but most of them cannot be recovered.

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