Jackson workers tackle debris left by flash flooding

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Tuesday's thunderstorms caused the worst flash flooding in select parts of Jackson since 1986, some residents are saying.

At the city park, it looked as if a colony of confused beavers had taken over the premises, as thick piles of sticks and debris, looking something like small beaver dams, were stacked against almost every tree and fence on the lower end of the park.

A day earlier, muddy water from Hubble Creek roared down the channel and water spilled out of its banks, flooding the park, including the lower tennis courts.

Parks director Shane West Anderson said the water was high enough, and moving quickly enough, that he saw a tire float over the court Wednesday. He said the water got as high as he's seen it during his seven years with the city.

The water lapped the bottom of the park's pedestrian bridge, and came within two feet of doing the same at the Main Street bridge.

City parks employee Mark Statler, who has worked with the parks department for 28 years, said the flooding was as bad as it's been in at least 10 years, but wasn't as bad as the flood of 1986, which reached one of the picnic shelters. The 1986 storm dropped up to 10 inches of rain on the area. Floods wiped out the mill at Apple Creek and did millions of dollars in damage at the Town Plaza in Cape Girardeau.

The area didn't receive near that amount of rain this time, but Hubble Creek rose as quickly as ever.

According to Rachel Trevino, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky., Jackson reported 2.2 inches of rain from the storms.

Janet Sanders, the city's planning and building superintendent, said she thought the flood compared more to recent floods in 1997 and 2002 than the big one in 1986.

But this flood took on a different personality. It was worse in some areas and not in others. She said it's her job to monitor how close the floods come to homes. She said the flood didn't rise as high in some residential areas as she has seen it in the past.

"We had less than 3 inches here in town this time," she said. "With the flooding we had, I would have expected 7 or 8 or maybe more."

That statement gives credence to what city engineer Dan Triller has been saying for several years. Triller has been Jackson's most outspoken advocate for stormwater regulations, particularly in the county.

As the areas to the north of Jackson continue to develop, the city becomes more susceptible to flash floods. Triller has participated on a county committee that is looking into stormwater regulations. Triller has said he'd like to see the county adopt stormwater ordinances like the city's, which require developers to build stormwater retention or detention basins to compensate for the loss of previous ground.

Triller agreed with Sanders' assessment, saying certain areas of the city, such as the park, saw extraordinarily high water levels, while other parts just south did not. He said he thinks one reason for the abnormal flooding situation was the way the storm moved from north to south.

Jackson's other two creeks, William and Goose, were high as well.

"I've never seen Goose Creek like it was yesterday," Triller said.

"The worst of the storm was right over the Bent Creek area."

Triller said the county stormwater ordinance committee will likely be meeting with the county commission within the next few weeks.



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