City still assessing damage in wake of holiday flooding


On Christmas morning, City Manager Isaiah Hugley called an emergency meeting at the city’s Emergency Management Center in response to the threat of flooding.

 The meeting, which included representatives from Public Safety, Emergency Management, Public Works, Engineering and others, was called when Hugley learned that Georgia Power planned to open 13 gates at the Lake Oliver Dam.

“A number of years ago, there we 10 gates that were opened and it caused problems,” Deputy City Manager Lisa Goodwin told Columbus Council today in a briefing on flood damage. “Because of that, we were truly concerned that those gates being open could threaten to flood homes and neighborhoods downstream.”

As it turned out, there was little residential flooding, but in addition to flooding several city parks, including the Riverwalk, the heavy rains of late December caused extensive damage in other parts of the city, Goodwin said.

In addition to the parks, erosion caused bank and fence failures in the area of the North Highland Dam, on 8th Street near Carver High School and on Bradley Circle and a drain pipe washout at the pavilion on 23rd Street, Goodwin said. There is also some erosion on the high terraced riverbank behind the Synovus building that could require contractors to repair.

All the parks have been reopened with the exception of one short stretch of the Riverwalk, just north of the Sewage Treatment Plant off South Lumpkin Road. That stretch is usually the first to flood and the last to see waters recede.

Funding for most of the repairs and cleanup will come from the General Fund, Goodwin said. But should larger projects such as the terraced bank require outside contractors, Council would have to fund those projects.

Goodwin said there would be no way to estimate the ultimate cost to taxpayers until the city can determine which projects need to be contracted out and then gets estimates from the contractors.

The city isn’t likely to see any financial help from either the Georgia of Federal Emergency Management Agencies because Gov. Nathan Deal did not include Muscogee in those counties deemed to be disaster areas, Goodwin said.