Flooding impacts Walker County late Sunday


Torrential rains brought flooding to the majority of Walker County late Sunday, with districts 2 and 3 reported to have the greatest impact.

A low pressure system brought  gusty winds and downpours to central Alabama Sunday evening, with heavy rains entering Walker County around 6 p.m. Due to the slow nature of the weather system, thundershowers lasted for nearly two hours and caused significant flooding.

Walker County 911 announced on their Facebook page at 9 p.m. Sunday that there were multiple reports of flooding across the county, particularly in the communities of Nauvoo, Carbon Hill, Oakman, Jasper and Townley. At the time, they advised water was rapidly rising on a number of roads.

Oakman Fire and Rescue reported at 7 p.m. Sunday that Fruit Jar Road, Blue Water Road, View Street and Tubbs Hill Road were all flooded, and the intersection of School Street and Swindle Loop Road was deemed impassable. The section of road is notorious for flooding during severe weather.

The intersection was still closed  Monday to repair the portion of School Street that was washed out by a culvert underneath. One lane of the road was opened late Monday, and more repairs are scheduled for today.

Oakman Street Department worked to patch the road and make it safe for travel, with assistance from Walker County District 2 Commissioner Jeff Burrough.  

Burrough was also in Oakman Sunday night as Oakman Fire and Rescue removed fallen trees on area roads and Alabama Power Company removed downed power lines.   

"We have to thank a lot of our local fire departments that respond first," Burrough said. "We have a crew of 10 people on call, and they all responded, came out and we did what we needed to do."

Oakman Mayor Cory Franks  admits flooding is common in certain areas of the town, but it was worse than usual Sunday.

"We did have several areas that were flooded pretty badly, but [our volunteer fire department] did a great job last night of putting up barricades where they could and working alongside the commissioner and his staff," Franks said. "We're going to have to look for steps that we can take to prevent such flooding in some areas in the future."

In Jasper, a portion of Redmill Saragossa Road and North Old Russellville Road had reports of flooding. Third Avenue South near the Jasper Post Office had also flooded, along with some areas of East Highway 78. 

A portion of Highway 78 in Jasper, near Pizza Hut, was temporarily closed Sunday evening due to flooding, according to bystander reports. 

"It was as widespread as I've ever observed," Jasper Mayor David O'Mary said. "Of course, we had a tremendous amount of rainfall in a short period of time, and I don't think anything we'll ever be able to do will completely eliminate flooding in this city."

O'Mary said 19th Street East at the Jasper Civic Center also had flooding issues, but work will soon begin in that area to eliminate significant flooding. He said the Jasper City Council will also discuss ways to eliminate the flooding on Third Avenue in a work session Friday.  

"There's some restrictions in that creek [near Third Avenue], north and west of the rail overpass there, that has to be fixed if we're going to eliminate that flooding," he said.

O'Mary said flooding at 24th Street in West Jasper must also be addressed.

"There's some watershed that's coming from Highway 69 and Old Tuscaloosa Road that's feeding into drainage facilities that are far from adequate," O'Mary said. "I talked with our city engineer this morning, and to remedy that is probably a $500,000 project."

He added, "We have flooding, and we're chipping away at that. Will we have it all resolved in a year's time? I would have to say not, but our street department is going to begin work in mid-May trying to remove some restrictions from the stream beds that take water away from the city." 

Walker County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Regina Myers said there were other isolated areas of flooding in Walker County. Such areas, reported by Walker County 911, were Prospect Road in Nauvoo, Ripley Road in Carbon Hill, Lost Creek Road in Carbon Hill and Coal Valley Road in Townley. Flooding was also reported in far north Walker County in Curry and the Cedar Lake community, south of Parrish.   

Myers said someone in Townley became stuck in their car when they tried to drive through flood waters, and there were some power outages reported in Oakman and the Poplar Springs area of Nauvoo. Downed trees also caused some travel issues. 

"We did start having some trees go down. It was mostly due to the saturation of the ground, more than the winds," Myers said. "Of course, when the trees go down, they start taking the power lines down."  

The heavy rains and gusty winds that swept through Walker County were part of a line of storms that later caused severe thunderstorm warnings in Jefferson, Shelby and Chilton counties.

Several tornado warnings were issued during the day Sunday in South Alabama. The Gulf Coast was impacted by a tornado in the city of Foley that caused damage to businesses and other structures.

A tornado also caused damage in the Fort Rucker area of Dale County. The National Weather Service was still assessing storm damage across the state late Monday.