• 68°

Grimes’ column: It was year of flood

Twenty-five years ago the main topic of conversation centered around the flood waters that hit the area on Thursday, March 14. 1990.
A series of heavy rain storms culminated in water flooding the downtown areas of Brewton and East Brewton. The Brewton Police Department, which was located in what is now Hope Place, began early to place sandbags in the basement where they were located. As the water began to rise, they moved to the upstairs area of the building, but eventually they were forced to move to the Brewton City Board of Education. Police Chief Grover Smith said that flood waters were chest high when they abandoned the department at 12:30 a.m. on Friday.
The Alabama National Guard was activated and worked to shuttle people to and from the Alco area.
There was much praise from merchants in the downtown area for those who volunteered to help move merchandise to higher ground or into moving vans before the water got to it. Even students from the high schools got involved in helping to save as much as they could.
Statewide there were 11 people who lost their lives due to this flood and three of those were in Escambia County. There were 75 families left homeless after the flood and the Red Cross was asking for help.
In East Brewton, the most visible signs of the flood was the street and parking lot of Super Foods and Horton Plaza, now where the Piggly Wiggly stands. The pavement was buckled and had to be replaced.
As bad as this flood was, there was no comparison to the flood of 1929. That flood was so bad, subsequent flooding, is compared to it to this day.
Now, I am not old enough to have been around during the 1929 flood but I heard about it even when I was a child. I have since learned more about it.
In the 1929 flood, waters covered much of south Alabama. It was wide spread and caused a lot of loss and heartache. Brewton and East Brewton were completely cut off from the outside world. Planes even flew over the area, dropping blankets and food items.
The flood caused great hardships on the residents of both Brewton and East Brewton. It also made people think and to begin to look for ways to prevent it from happening again. One comical thing that changed was the passing of a city law that no one could drive their motor boat down the streets.
It seemed that it made the waters make waves that would break the many windows in the downtown area. As a result of the flood, the city of East Brewton chose to make plans to be more prepared for any future floods. And there would be more.
Of course, the flood gave the merchants the opportunity to have lots of flood sales. I guess something good comes out of everything.
During this time and afterwards, work was going on to restore Alco Park and made improvements to it.
One change being done at this time was the announcement of Wal-Mart coming to Douglas Square. The announcement also stated that 180 new jobs would become available.
A dump of old tires at Damascus was under investigation, as it was illegal.
Lastly, The Brewton Standard was on a subscription drive and was offering a free fly swatter with a year’s subscription. Why, a fly swatter? I don’t know.