Flood victims voice concerns at council meeting

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Pelham officials said they are working to expedite a possible Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to address flooding issues in the city after several victims of Pelham’s July 31 flood voiced their concerns during an Aug. 6 City Council meeting.

During the meeting, several residents of Pelham’s Stratford Place and Saddle Run neighborhoods attended and voiced concerns about the neighborhoods’ habitual flooding.

Both neighborhoods, which are off Shelby County 261, saw significant flooding when storms dropped about 6 inches of rain on the city in about six hours early on the morning of July 31.

Saddle Run resident Jamiel Saliba said July 31 marked the second time his house has flooded in the past four years, and said the recent storm brought about 3 feet of flooding on his property.

“Four years ago, we were assured this (new) drainage ditch would fix things. It didn’t,” Saliba said, noting his flood insurance was recently canceled after his insurance company determined his house was prone to flooding. “You are going to have a much larger problem if someone gets killed.

“We are all a little fed up. At some point, you are going to have to do something beside tell us there’s nothing you can do,” Saliba added, noting he spent about $7,000 to repair the flood damage to his house.

Pelham Mayor Don Murphy said the city is not allowed by law to spend public funds on repairing private property, but said he would be in favor of establishing a program to raise money to help flood victims who did not have flood insurance.

Pelham City Engineer Jesse Jowers said the city applied for a FEMA grant four years ago to help install three retention ponds to help combat flooding near the two neighborhoods. Two months ago, FEMA notified Pelham officials the city was still in the running for the grant.

“We have used this event. We took photos of Stratford and Saddle Run to present to FEMA in hopes of expediting that process,” Jowers said, noting Rick Hayes helped to improve drainage in the area by installing a retention pond when building his Ingenuity business off Shelby County 261.

Pelham Revenue Director Mike Morgan told Saliba the city maintains “repetitive loss summary” documents listing previously flooded houses in Pelham. Houses listed on the document can not be denied flood insurance, he said.