Elba ‘didn’t take no for an answer’

Published 2:14 pm Monday, December 28, 2009

By By Kerry Whipple Bean

In 1990, a major flood washed out the south Alabama town of Elba, drenching the downtown and many businesses and homes.
A decades-old levee failed when heavy March rains saturated the area.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers almost immediately patched the breaks in the levee, but that would prove to be an impermanent solution to the problem.
The 1990 flood filled Cox’s office with 10 feet of water. Residents and business owners thought the levee patches would work — but eight years later, another flood brought more water into the town.
So Elba leaders worked together with federal and state officials to find a solution.
Then-Gov. Fob James appointed a task force to look into the flooding in the southeast part of the state, and the group went to Washington to seek help.
At an early meeting with federal officials, Cox said he and other Elba leaders felt they weren’t getting very far.
So Cox stood up and put a voice to the attitude the group would have until they got the solution they needed.
Cox believes that is the attitude Brewton and East Brewton leaders need if they, too, want to find a solution to the flooding that has plagued the two communities built between two creeks.
The Elba task force worked for years to secure funding, much of it coming incrementally, with smaller projects to improve drainage and more large-scale plans to build a new levee.
Cox said he believes Brewton, too, needs an appointed task force that can look into solutions for flooding and seek funding for the project.
Cox said the task force’s work in Elba took many years but was well worth it.