WINSTON COUNTY - The expression, “rain rain go away” has never been more true for Winston County officials than it is now, as excessive rainful during February and now carrying into March has left officials with pothole problems.
The recent proclamation from Governor Kay Ivey issuing a state of emergency due to significant flooding from extended periods of heavy rainfall has left local officials questioning how much of a financial threshold must be met locally in order to receive reimbursement.
The proclamation, dated Feb. 18, and signed by Ivey, was in accordance with the State Emergency Management Act of 1955, giving the governor power to proclaim a state of emergency when a natural disaster of major proportions occurs.
Beginning Feb. 1, the National Weather Service began forecasting that many areas of the state would experience flooding issues over a sustained period of time due to heavy and frequent rainfall, the proclamation stated. The forecast has proven to be quite accurate, with significant flooding issues causing damage to property while possibly disrupting essential utility services, the proclamation added.
This flooding also has posed a danger to the health and safety of people across the state, creating a high risk of physical injury or death, according to the Proclamation.
The magnitude of these conditions are beyond the control any single county or city and will require combined forces to combat, the proclamation continued.
The state has yet to set the financial threshold counties and cities must meet in order to qualify for relief funding, stated Winston County Commissioner Bobby Everett.
“We’re still getting our data together to meet a threshold,” Everett said.
After several days of rainfall in February, the sun came out long enough for county officials to assess shifts in asphalt and/or roadway surfaces as well as potholes.
Winston County knows all too well the procedure of how to obtain federal disaster funding after the catastrophic floods of Dec. 25, 2015, when major roadways and roads leading into subdivisions were completely washed out, making them impassable. The washouts resulted in the county replacing older, mangled culverts with a new type of culvert that handles excessive water flow much better.
These new culverts are working. It’s side roads and ditches this time that are taking the bigger brunt of the damage.
“If we’d had those old culverts in here with this rain we’ve had, we’d have had those same culverts to wash back out,” County Commission Chairman Roger Hayes said.
“The public ate us up on it because we had to go back and amend our budget, but we felt like it was well worth it, and the people so critical of us at that time see now we did the best thing in the long run,” Hayes pointed out.
With the recent heavy rains, the county is still uncertain what type of funding for which it can qualify.
“People in the county need to understand we have yet to qualify because we don’t know what the criteria is to qualify,” Hayes said. “We are waiting on the state and federal governments to see what they decide to do on it.”
“We’re gathering our data in the event we’re able to qualify,” stressed Winston County Road Engineer James Glasgow, “so we’ll have all our ducks in a row.”
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.