Official says weekend storm flooded 45 homes, 76 streets

benw@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 5, 2009 

The thunderstorm that swept through Columbus on Saturday morning left 45 houses and 76 streets flooded from a downpour that dumped up to a half-inch per hour, a city and National Weather Service official said.

The storm was part of the same system that spawned a tornado near Salem, Ala., leaving homes, a school and church buildings damaged or destroyed but no serious injuries were reported.

Deputy City Manager Lisa Goodwin said five businesses also were flooded in Columbus. The flooding was throughout the city with many areas prone to flooding. They included Fifth Avenue, the Liberty District, 11th Street underpass and homes on Califon Court off St. Marys Road in southeast Columbus.

“We had several others where we had a downpour,” Goodwin said of the affected areas.

City Manager Isaiah Hugley told Mayor Jim Wetherington that he will present a report Tuesday to the 10-member Columbus Council on the flooding.

Laura Griffith, a spokeswoman for the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, said records show the Columbus area received 4.43 inches of rain from Friday afternoon through Sunday. On Saturday morning as a series of storms rolled through the area, Columbus received a half-inch per hour during the height of the severe weather. The downpour is enough to cause pooling of water on the streets.

On Fifth Avenue, some motorists were caught in flooding that rose almost 3 feet high on the roadway between 13th and 15th streets.

Robert Loving, a Levy Road resident, was out of town when he learned that his home was flooded with more than 3 feet of water that overwhelmed the drainage system near Victory Drive.

So far, Loving said he has been able to salvage only a few clothes.

“I’m in the process of trying to find a place,” he said Wednesday. “I’ve got to move out of here. There is no way I can stay in here.”

A retired Army sergeant, Loving said a faulty drain caused the water to back up in the area. City crews have been able to keep the drain clean for about two months, Loving said. He said the area is at flood level before water goes through the pipe.

“All they can tell me is they are waiting on people from risk management,” Loving said.

The weekend flooding wasn’t the first for the area.

The area flooded back in 1989, Loving said.

“This is something the city has been made aware of several times, and I hope they eventually do something on the drainage system,” he said.

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