Heavy rains force road closures across county

Published 7:36 pm Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Heavy rains left many roadways in Butler County flooded and impassable as a line of thundershowers and rainstorms took up residence for nearly two days across the southern parts of Alabama.

Nearly four inches of rain, unofficially, on Saturday was but a prelude to the deluge Butler County saw on Monday and Tuesday. Rain was nearly non-stop: at times heavy, at times light, but always present.

By late Tuesday afternoon a total of eight inches of rain, according to county engineer Dennis McCall, had caused ponds and creeks to overflow, swamping nearby roads and bridges. McCall listed at least six county roads closed due to floodwaters, but unpaved roads maintained by the county were just as affected, he said. McCall said county workers had to make temporary repairs to dirt roads in order to make them passable again.

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The good thing was that damage, in general, appeared to be light, said McCall.

“We’ve got some minor damage, especially on our unpaved roads, where we’re dealing with some situations of erosion,” he said.

More good news: forecasters expected the rain to end Wednesday morning. McCall said he feared heavy rain on Tuesday – an inch to an inch-and-a-half – would cause flash floods in areas already heavily saturated by rainwater. Butler County spent much of Monday and Tuesday under such a warning.

“What I’m meaning is hard rain, which would normally not affect us,” he said. “But anything that hits the ground now is run off, because the ground has soaked up all that it’s going to soak. Beaver ponds and ditches are all running at capacity.”

Also, wind was relatively light, said McCall, which meant no reports of downed trees or other obstacles on the roads.

Once the rain stops, McCall said floodwaters should begin to recede within 48 hours. Engineers will then inspect all roads to ensure they remain structurally sound.

Joseph Dean, Butler County Schools Interim Superintendent, said the district was able to maintain the same bus schedule on Monday and Tuesday despite the flooding with the exception of at McKenzie where two buses had to be used to split one route. Some of the school’s students live in and around Garland, where County Road 8 was flooded.

Other roads closed, said McCall, were: County Road 16, west of Georgiana; County Road 24; County Road 7; Tulip Rd. south of Greenville; Bowden Bridge Rd., north of Greenville; and County Road 37.