Rains force road closings

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 15, 2009

All county roads in Covington County were temporarily closed last night as heavy rains caused flash flooding on many roads, and a flood warning has been issued for the Conecuh River at River Falls.

Sheriff Dennis Meeks announced in the seven o’clock hour Monday that the county Emergency Management Agency had temporarily closed all roads after receiving numerous calls about water crossing roadways. Most of the roads were expected to be open after Monday night’s heavy rains passed, but at least 11 roads had already been closed before the worst of Monday’s rains.

Late Monday, the National Weather Service issued a flood warning for the Conecuh River at River Falls that will remain in effect until Wednesday night. At 6 p.m. Monday, the river was at 29.9 feet, and was expected to rise to near 41 feet by this afternoon. Flood state is 37 feet. At 40 feet, “considerable flooding of farmlands and some rural roads in the area will occur,” the NWS predicted.

The National Weather Service reported Monday that most of the region received at least 4 inches of rain Friday through Saturday. Cloudy skies and the occasional light rainfall on Sunday did not allow for any significant drying, and as a result, many low-lying areas and flood-prone areas still have standing water.

Susan Carpenter, the county’s emergency management agency director, said Monday the agency was keeping a close eye on the county’s rivers, and expected Yellow River might cause highway flooding on Hwy. 55.

“Yellow River, isn’t at flood level yet, but it is rising quickly as the rain continues to fall,” she said.

Monday morning, the river’s water level had risen from 10.5 feet to 16 feet.

Carpenter said flooding or “water coming across the road” occurs at 19 feet.

“They are still predicting rainfall (today) with some areas seeing upwards of 3 inches,” she said. “That’s a lot of water on the roads, and people need to be very careful when navigating the roadways.”

County engineer Darren Capps said rainfall received throughout December has halted road maintenance throughout the county.

“We’ve had zero days on the graders in all of December,” he said. “We just ask that people be patient with us until things dry out.”

Additionally, the heavy fog that blanketed the county for the majority of the weekend remained throughout Monday and into today.

Currently, the county remains under a flash flood warning; however, weather reports show clear and sunny skies for Wednesday and Thursday before the rain returns Friday.