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franklin county times

City, county hold emergency meetings following flood

By Alison James


Authorities are asking people in the city of Russellville and Franklin County to avoid flooded areas following last night’s downpour as officials work to assess damage and create a mitigation plan.

An emergency work session was held this morning at 10:30 a.m. at Russellville City Hall to discuss the damage and develop a plan for moving forward as another front nears the area.

“The most extensive damage is along the bigger creeks,” said county engineer David Palmer. “I know we’ve got a lot of damage, but I don’t know how much.”
The National Weather Service estimates this area received more than 4 inches of rain in a short period of time.
Russellville fire chief Joe Mansell said his office responded to 15-18 emergency calls for rescue during the time of the flash flooding.
“I’ve lived here all my life, and I’ve worked for the city for 23 years, and this is the worst I have seen it,” Mansell said.
Those gathered, including Alabama EMA’s Ricky Little and Jody Hitt, Franklin County EMA director, discussed the best methods for beginning to assess and address damage in the county and also discussed potential emergency actions that could need to be taken this evening as more rain moves in, such as sandbagging and, in dire circumstances, evacuation, particularly of Russellville Health Care.
“We really need to consider the critical features,” Palmer said. “The hospitals, the nursing homes – there is only so much we can do, and I think the critical facilities would have to come first.”
Another emergency work session will be held at 1 p.m. In attendance will be Zach Lee, director of government relations in the state governor’s office, who has also been viewing local damage.
Although a good bit of water has subsided, “if we get another hour of rain we’re still going to be in the same predicament,” said Hitt.
And that may very well happen.
“We are currently closely watching that area,” said meteorologist Tim Troutman with the National Weather Service in Huntsville, during a phone call during the work session. “Anytime around or after 2 p.m. it’s going to be into your county … Hopefully this won’t amount to anything.”
More information will be released as it becomes available, but in the meantime: “Stay put,” said Russellville Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Gary Cummings. “Don’t get out in this.”