11 Columbus families forced to flee flooding

Eleven families at the dead end of Teak Drive were forced from their homes Thursday after rushing water spilled from the nearby Charter Oak Watershed, flooding parts of the Fox Fire II neighborhood.

City crews and inmates from the Muscogee County Prison worked swiftly stacking white sandbags in backyards and sides of homes to reduce flood damage. Just before midnight, residents said water started flooding through yards and threatening homes.

“I don’t think I should have this problem,” said Robert Petitt, who could only watch as water washed 30 feet of his yard into the creek beside his 4728 Teak Drive home. “I’m going to lose 25 to 30 feet. I’m prone to lose more.”

The city offered to house the flood victims at Homewood Suites on Whittlesey Boulevard until Sunday. They also made plans at Animal Control and Care Center on Milgen Road to house family pets.

Water spilled over the watershed’s spillway after the drain was partially clogged. “The rain brought water into the watershed faster than the bypass could pump it out,” Deputy City Manager David Arrington said Thursday.

The watershed with about 20 feet of water was too much for the pump and water rushed over the spillway. Arrington said city crews were relocating the pump and adding four more to control the water in the neighborhood. At least three of the homes had more than 2 inches of water inside, said Mark LaJoye, a Lemans Drive resident whose home backs up to the creek. About 30 city trucks were on the scene battling the flooding water. “They are sand bagging behind the house to divert water,” LaJoye said of city crews.

Arrington said the outlet that typically drains the watershed is partially clogged and not draining adequately. At 20 feet below the surface, crews can’t get to the drain until pumps lower the water.

Engineers had said the water never flows over the spillway but recent rains overwhelmed the area.“There is some erosion along the creek bank and we’ll have to come back and repair that,” Arrington said of the damage near Petitt's home.