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Jacksonville flood study provides possible solutions

JACKSONVILLE — The results of a floodplain study, delivered Monday night, might help the city solve flooding problems for residents of the Cotton Creek subdivision. 

Residents of Miranda Lane, Jackson Way and James Hopkins Road in the west side of Cotton Creek, as well residents of the east side of the subdivision around Amanda Lane, have said in previous meetings that the problem started March 25, when a storm spawned a deadly tornado in northwest Calhoun County and dumped rain elsewhere. Residents who attended the City Council’s Monday night meeting said their homes had flooded twice more since then. 

The city commissioned S&ME, an engineering firm based in North Carolina, on May 25 to search for solutions. Byron Hinchey, a senior project manager for the company, reported the firm’s findings during the City Council meeting. 

Hinchey said the current drainage situation could allow the worst of the area’s rainfall — about 6.7 inches in 24 hours, an amount that might occur only once per quarter-century, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — to cause more serious flooding. 

“Water could get maybe a foot deep over the roadway,” Hinchey offered as a worst-case scenario. 

Local culverts and ditches lack the capacity to handle such an event, he explained in detail. But one resident said he, a weather buff, had measured rainfall during one of the flooding incidents and found it to be around 4.5 inches in a 14-hour period, even less than NOAA’s historical worst-case scenario. 

Possible fixes included improvements to the culverts on Miranda Lane, or adding a new box culvert to John Hopkins Road to match the one already there. 

Hinchey seemed most optimistic about excavating one of two possible detentions, which are similar to retention ponds, but they remain dry when not in use. One would control about 80 percent of water headed to Miranda Lane, where the neighborhood’s troubles seem to start. The other could manage all of it, as well as a large part of water affecting other areas. Though that option is more effective, it might also involve land negotiations, which could delay relief for Cotton Creek. 

“We could have some kind of plan of action ready by the next meeting,” said council Chairman Tony Taylor, though he tempered that statement, noting that discussion would be needed first. 

During its meeting, the City Council: 

— Created a moratorium on flying drones and other “unmanned aerial systems” within 300 feet of Jax Fest, which will be held Saturday. The rule is a safety condition required by the company providing the fireworks show. 

— Authorized an agreement with St. Clair County to house the county’s inmates, which would fund pay for one full-time corrections officer, and another at part-time. The creation of those positions was also authorized at the recommendation of police Chief Marcus Wood. 

— Entered an agreement with Spyglass, a company that will audit city communications billing for services that can be made cheaper or cut entirely. The company is only paid if the city takes its recommendations, with money from the savings. 

— Signed a memorandum of understanding with the FBI’s North Alabama Violent Crime Task Force. Wood said this will allow participation with the task force as needed, and also allow Jacksonville to call on the task force for support if the city must control a violent situation. 

As an example, he said, when Anniston police officer Justin Sollohub was murdered in 2011, the city of Birmingham sent 55 officers to support Anniston police during the manhunt that followed. 

— Rezoned property at 201 Greenleaf St. SW from general business to two-family residential. 

Assistant Metro Editor Ben Nunnally: 256-235-3560.