City and Corp work on Brewton's flood danger

Published 5:46 am Monday, January 26, 2004

By By ANNA M. LEE Assistant Editor
The City of Brewton is working with the Army Corp of Engineers on a feasibility study to determine what can be done about Brewton's flood problem.
Three years ago, Brewton and the Corp of Engineers entered into a contract to conduct this study, which was expected to last five years. Progress on the project has moved at a faster rate than expected and may now be finished in only four years, said Pete Diurno, director of community development for Brewton.
During the first year of the study, the Corp of Engineers gathered information about the economic impact of flooding on the city and now they are working to assess the physical feasibility of solutions to flooding, Diurno said.
Representatives with the Corp have met with city officials from Brewton and plan to confer with East Brewton city officials on the problem soon.
The City of Brewton's share of the $1.3 million study is $500,000, to be paid over the duration of the project, Diurno said.
Murder Creek and Burnt Corn Creek and their tributaries are responsible for the influx of water in low-lying areas of town, said Jennings.
On average, the city floods once every 1.5 years, Diurno said.
Flooding in the downtown area can have a major impact on businesses, primarily T.R. Miller Mill Company, Brewton Ironworks and Citation, Jennings said.
Damage to plants and shutdowns can have a significant economic impact on Brewton, he said.
Also, if a flood occurred at the same time as a hurricane, evacuation could put thousands of people in danger.
Currently, in the case of a flood, police, fire department and any spare city authorities will go door to door to notify people in low-lying areas, Diurno said.
A flood gauge installed at Murder Creek on Hwy. 41 in 1998 measures height and speed of water, to help city officials stay updated on the threat of flooding.
Reverse 911, which will be operational this year, allows the city to notify people electronically by telephone, saving authorities time in emergency situations.
One possible solution to flooding being considered by the Army Corp of Engineers is a levy that would extend from O'Bannon Park, around Murder Creek and past T.R. Miller Mill, Diurno said.
The levy would prevent excess water from reaching the downtown area, and any water captured within the levy perimeter would be pumped out, Diurno said.
The levy project, if implemented, would cost about $10 million, Diurno said.

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