Pelham residents react to flooding on Christmas Day
Published 3:22 pm Friday, January 8, 2016
By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer
PELHAM—Although most of northern Shelby County seemed to avoid the flooding water Christmas Day, several Pelham residents were not as lucky as their neighbors.
Homes in Cedar Cove and Saddle Run neighborhoods received more than three feet of water in some places, according to reports from homeowners, and multiple Christmas celebrations were put on hold.
At the Jan. 4 Pelham City Council meeting, director of public works Eddy Jowers reported that three homes in Cedar Cove received water — one crawl space and two basements — and that he had heard of one home flooding in Saddle Run.
Patricia Day, a former resident of Saddle Run, attended the council meeting with June Fletcher to report on the condition of the homes in her previous neighborhood.
She explained that the streets were filled with trash that was washed in by the water, and two homes were flooded with three to four feet of water.
“The 3-year-old who lived in the Skinner house lost all of her Christmas toys, all of their Christmas,” Day said. “Their visitors lost all of their luggage. The water was probably three feet up on their house.”
The other home that flooded appeared to be abandoned, according to Day. She told the council that she also drove around Pelham the day after Christmas, exploring other locations that got water, such as Stratford.
“We understand. We’ve tried to expedite. We’ve tried to push,” City Council President Rick Hayes said. “We’ve pulled a lot of resources together to try to do that, and we still are.”
Pelham has completed a study for the Bearden Road corridor storm water problems, Hayes said in a Jan. 8 email. He said the study raised a variety of issues and a confidential lawsuit settlement has added complications.
He explained that the city has asked GM&C to evaluate funding options for the options they outlined in the study.
“Addressing this issue will take some time, but we took a big step forward with the study,” Hayes wrote.
The flooded crawlspace in Cedar Cove belongs to Chris Conner, who was in Georgia visiting family on Christmas day. He said he lost tools, Christmas ornaments and more with the water reaching three feet on the mailboxes, two feet in the yard and crawlspace and five inches in his garage.
Luckily, a neighbor was able to move Conner’s car to avoid damage.
“When he called me I jumped in the car with my father-in-law and drove three plus hours back from north Georgia to Pelham,” Conner said. “So Christmas day, instead of spending dinner and such with my family, I got to drive three plus hours in a torrential downpour to find my house covered in water.”
He said he cannot sleep or travel with peace of mind when it rains because there is always the threat of property damage.
Scott Mains, a former resident of Saddle Run, said he is pleased with the work the city is doing to remedy the flooding issues in Pelham. His home in Saddle Run is one of five that was purchased by the city.
His former home sits in the center of the neighborhood next to the sewer drain, and the other homes purchased are also adjacent to it. Mains said he expects the city will knock down the five homes and widen the storm drain in order to give the water a place to go.
“It took a long time, but they were vey helpful,” Mains said. “We met with Mayor Waters and Jesse and Eddy Jowers. We got to know them very well.”
Mains only had one bad flood at his home, with about eight inches of water, but he remembers seeing water fill yards and the shoulders of the road. Mains said he is excited to see city leaders working with residents find solutions.
“I’m excited to see that the city is working with people…they are actively working toward a resolution and that thrills me,” he said. “The conversations that I have had with the mayor, he doesn’t sleep when it rains either.”
In his email, Hayes said the city is also awaiting feedback from FEMA concerning the 261 Flood Mitigation Project. Pelham has been pushing progress in this project and Hayes said he expects it will begin soon.
“This problem has existed for many years and a solution is definitely in sight even if it can’t happen fast enough for any of us,” Hayes wrote.