EMA warns of flooding

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 1, 2005

Some Dallas County residents may be forced to evacuate this weekend, as rain threatens to push the Alabama River over official flood levels.

“The river is going to crest above flood stage,” Emergency Management Director Brett Howard said. “Half a foot above flood stage.”

While half a foot might not seem like a lot, it’s definitely a danger Howard said, especially for riverside residents.

“You probably need to make plans to evacuate and get all of your stuff out of your yard,” he said.

Howard said the current models from the National Weather Service are estimating that Dallas County will get three more inches of rainfall in the next few days.

“If we get more, it’ll be worse,” he said.

If the estimate is true – and Howard says he has faith in it – the river will be seven feet higher than it is now.

Several people are already having trouble with the rising waters.

“It’s only going to get worse with time,” he said.

Howard said he wasn’t sure how much damage the flood could do, but he expected porches and decks to be destroyed in the process.

“There’s been a lot of changes in the flood plain around here,” he said. “That has a lot to do with it.”

Howard said it’s best to be careful, because the rising water could even sweep homes away.

“Anytime that river leaves its bank there’s a very high possibility that could happen,” he said.

Howard said residents in low-lying areas near the river should start securing items in their yard, and make sure pets and possessions are on high ground.

Howard said anyone with livestock should make sure they have all their animals on high ground before Sunday.

“I can’t issue a mandatory evacuation,” he said. “I can just urge people, don’t wait until the last minute to do this.”

Howard said the river is expected to crest at 45.5 feet, about six inches above flood levels.

Montgomery County is expecting the river to rise about three feet above flooding levels.

The last time the river flooded badly, Howard said, was in 1990.

The Alabama crested at 58 feet then, he said, about 13 feet above flood level.

“That was a 500-year-flood,” Howard said. “This is more along the lines of a 100-year-flood.”

For more information, contact the Dallas County EMA at 874-2515.