Tuscumbia, AL is widely known for being the hometown of Helen Keller and the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
These days, however, Tuscumbia’s residents are too concerned with flooding to think about their city’s rich legacies.
For Mattie Smith, who lives on Gail Street, the flooding is so severe that after a heavy rainfall, it looks like her house is surrounded by a moat.
The floods have also forced Theresa Richards to replace the floor in her Madison Avenue home’s utility room several times.
According to an April 28 Florence TimesDaily article, homes and yards all across the city are flooding — and it’s largely due to a rising number of business and housing developments, whose concrete surfaces give fewer opportunities for rainwater to seep into the ground.
And solving the issue isn’t as simple as raising residents’ sewer rates, either.
“With all these issues Tuscumbia has, it would probably be $30 (million) to $40 million to address everything,” engineer Kelley Keeton Taft said. “That’s not realistic.”
Taft, a Tuscumbia resident, has been working with the city on solving these flooding matters. She and her husband Bart are currently studying sewer flow data, and found the flooding is largely caused by inflow problems. The Tafts, who co-own The Kelley Group engineering firm, will complete their studies within the next six weeks or so and submit their findings to the City Council.
Meanwhile, the city’s leaders plan to submit an application for state funding via the Clean Water State Revolving Fund by May 1. This fund, established by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, gives municipalities 2.5% interest loans to repair sewer inflow problems buried 12 to 24 inches below ground. To pay back the loan, the City Council would have to raise city utility rates by $3 per month, the TimesDaily reports.
However, it will likely be late autumn before the city finds out if its loan is approved and construction can begin. Until then, Tuscumbia will just have to keep weathering whatever storms come its way.