Flood victims offer heated comments during council meeting

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Pelham City Council President Teresa Nichols said the council soon will look into the possibility of funding $1.7 million in upgrades to a flood-prone area off Shelby County 261 after several city residents expressed concerns about the area.

Nichols’ announcement came after several residents in the Saddle Lakes subdivision spoke during an Aug. 20 City Council meeting. Some of the residents’ comments became heated, and Saddle Run resident Jerry Prater threatened to sue Pelham elected officials and department heads.

“From my standpoint, and I don’t mean to offend anyone, but I’m sick of hearing about FEMA. My problem is with the city of Pelham,” Prater said. “You’re not doing your job.

“I can sue somebody. I’m going to sue the City Council, each member individually, the mayor and (Pelham City Engineer) Jesse (Jowers),” Prater added. “We’ve got a problem that’s been going on for a decade. All this studying ain’t worth crap.”

Prater’s comments came after Jowers said the city conducted a hydrology study in the wake of widespread flooding in the city on July 31, which flooded parts of the Saddle Run and Stratford Place neighborhoods. Jowers said the city worked with the Alabama hazard mitigation officer to document the flood and forward the information along to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Atlanta.

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 along Shelby County 261. About two months ago, FEMA notified Pelham officials the city was still in the running for the grant.

Jowers said it likely will cost about $1.7 million to install the three retention ponds.

“We are trying to fix it. We can’t just spend money because we’ve got it,” Pelham Mayor Don Murphy said to Prater. “We didn’t create the problem. You didn’t create the problem, but you moved into it.”

Pelham Councilman Steve Powell asked Saddle Run residents to provide the council a list of homes affected in the flood and a summary of the damages.

“We will come back together at the next work session (on Sept. 10) and decide do we want to wait for FEMA to fund it, or is this something we want to fund ourselves?” Nichols said.