Swollen creeks from heavy downpours spilled over their banks in Alexandria Saturday, flooding portions of the town, and creating problems for some residents and businesses. The high water also damaged the DeKalb County fair grounds and the newly built tee ball field in the area.
Another round of storms moved through Sunday, forcing authorities to spring into action again. Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins says the same area of West Main Street was affected Sunday by high water but the problem was not as severe as on Saturday. According to Chief Collins, several residents were asked to evacuate their homes as a precaution because Goose Creek had again overun its banks and was crossing the street, threatening homes. He says those who chose to leave their homes were taken to the Alexandria City Hall for shelter. Hickman Creek also overflowed again into the fairgrounds, but not like Saturday.
Alexandria city water customers also found themselves without service after the storm on Saturday. The problem occurred when a fire hydrant at the fairgrounds broke during the flood, causing a leak in a six inch water main, which reportedly drained the city's water tank. The water service has since been restored.
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As for the Saturday storm itself, Chief Collins says it came quickly and the rising waters from Hickman and Goose creeks caused several people to have to be evacuated from their homes in the Locust Street/West Main Street area. "It hit quickly. It was raining hard here. We had a substantial amount of water fall, upstream of our town creek and then when that water hit us, with our rainfall it was just more than our system could hold."
"We went to approximately 45 houses trying to get some people evacuated. The West Main/Locust Street area was hit the hardest. We went to every house out through there and evacuated everybody out on West Main. There are several houses out in the new annex of Alexandria that got hit hard. We opened up the West Main Baptist Church as a shelter. They were so kind to do that for us and we sent some of the families there until the waters receded. There's been no injuries. We were able to get everybody in harms way out in time."
Approximately 12 to 15 families were actually displaced.
Chief Collins says the flood caused a lot of damage."There's been several homes flooded and several businesses flooded here on the public square. The water was higher than I have ever seen it. The fairgrounds was completely underwater. There is substantial damage to the fairgrounds. There are several houses on Edgewood Street where the water came in. We had to set up barricades. We had several citizens who came out to assist us. We set up the barricades to keep these people from driving off into the water. Charlie Parker (Emergency Management Agency Coordinator) came down. The DeKalb County Rescue Squad, they were down this way on another call and they offered assistance. The Sheriff's Department offered their assistance. We all pulled together to get these people out and transported to our shelter."
Chief Collins added that his department, the Alexandria Volunteer Fire Department, Water and Street Department employees and others all joined in the effort to help these people.
Jeff McMillen, Manager of the DeKalb County Fair, says when Hickman Creek overflowed, a large portion of the fairgrounds went underwater, causing significant damage. "All the fence around the arena in front of the grandstand as well as the fence down along the creek bank and Edgewood street is gone. We also had about sixty gate panels along with some thirty to fifty big tires that we used for the demolition derby that washed away. We would like to ask that if anybody should come across any of these gate panels or big tires to please bring them to us or contact me or someone associated with the fair."
The high water got up around the grandstand and barn as well as the large concession building near the grandstand, but did not make it to the Kenneth Sandlin Center, commercial building, Lions Club Pavilion, and other structures on the fairgrounds that are located on higher ground.
Charlie Parker, DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator says while there was flooding and wind damage in other parts of DeKalb County, Alexandria suffered the most.
"Alexandria was hit hardest. They had several streets underwater and several houses were in danger so a few people were evacuated as the water was rising. They did set up temporary shelter there in Alexandria for the people who were displaced. The West Main Baptist Church is one of our designated areas for a temporary shelter down there. Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins made the contact and went ahead and got that set up. Most of the water was coming from the creeks in the area. So much rain fell so fast that the creeks just went completely out of their banks. It was even rising close to Highway 70 at one point. The water was across the road (near Goose Creek) but it was still passable. But if it had kept raining for very much longer it would have been even worse than what we had."
Parker says rising creek waters also caused some problems for people in the Dowelltown and Temperance Hall areas. "There was also water in the streets in Dowelltown. The creeks were rising down there. An outbuilding floated down the creek and lodged up against the bridge there in Dowelltown. Also around Temperance Hall and Oakley Hollow, there were reports of water over the roadways and it was getting close to some houses although no one there had to be evacuated."
A few places in Smithville experienced some street flooding due to the storms and high winds also caused some damage, according to Parker. "I think there were three trees, at least part of them that fell on a residence at the bottom of Holmes Creek Hill. There was also some trees that fell on Golf Course Drive and I think it knocked some power lines down."
Parker added, "Through all of this, nobody has been injured. We're just really lucky."