Christmas flooding still causing headaches
January 8, 2016 Share

Christmas flooding still causing headaches

By Tyler Pruett

tyler@southerntorch.com

DEKALB COUNTY, Ala.— Heavy rains that fell around the Christmas Holiday are still causing problems around the county. The rushing waters caused damage to infrastructure and businesses, as well as some private residences. Thirteen roads remained closed as of Monday and the local Emergency Management Agency reports that their damage assessment for Dekalb is approximately $315,000 and that state officials confirmed this assessment earlier this week. According to Dekalb County EMA Director Anthony Clifton, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, will begin its assessment of the damage later this week. Clifton also stated that while Dekalb has meet the threshold to be considered a disaster that, “we do not have a declaration of disaster yet and do not know at this time if we will have one.” Noting that the disaster declaration is crucial to receiving federal assistance for individuals with flood damage.

The Dekalb County EMA is monitoring water levels on Big Will’s Creek as well as Little River, and as of this week they have dropped to normal winter levels. The road closure list is as follows: County Roads 136, 386, 712, 667, 532, 552, 746, 739, 411, 391, 70, 539, and 695 have closed sections in Dekalb County. The northbound lane of Alabama Highway 78 is washed out in a large section in Cherokee County between Collinsville and Leesburg. Cherokee County Sheriff Jeff Shaver issued a notice to motorists traveling Hwy 78 due to many travelers simply driving around the barricade into oncoming traffic. “Local law enforcement and sheriff’s deputies have been extremely busy writing citations and trying to prevent accidents on Alabama Hwy 68,” Shaver stated. Officials say that the section of highway could take a month or longer to repair. While the road closures are an inconvenience to many, Director Clifton noted that, “it’s not going to be a quick process,” while discussing potential repair timelines for the closed roads. “We have to go through the mitigation process as well, which means improvements to our damaged infrastructure to prevent the same problems in the future,” Clifton added.

While some Dekalb residents are awaiting Federal assistance for flood damage, Director Clifton explained that this is a more complicated process than many realize. While the county threshold for damage to qualify is over $60,000 below the initial damage assessment, the state as a whole must meet the federal threshold to be provided with FEMA funds to individuals. To prepare for the possibility of flood damage in the future, Clifton recommends the public visit the FEMA website and use the interactive map to asses if their residence is within the floodplain. If so and you aren’t participating in the National Flood Insurance Program, it’s unlikely that any damage will be compensated. The website also details who needs flood insurance who does not. The Southern Torch will be updating the public as more information becomes available on the damage assessment and road re-openings.

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