Dry Creek area ‘dodged a bullet’

Becky Campbell • Jan 16, 2013 at 8:57 PM

After heavy rain over several days caused breaches along Dry Creek this week, Washington County officials have a better understanding of what work needs to be done to alleviate, and potentially prevent, damaging flooding when it rains.

“We dodged a bullet,” said County Mayor Dan Eldridge on Wednesday. “We saw (Tuesday) morning that we still have issues down there.”

There is already a plan to remediate 12 specific areas of the creek, which came about after the August flooding that destroyed or damaged dozens of homes along Dry Creek Road and many more elsewhere in the county.

That work has been ongoing and isn’t complete. Now, Eldridge said, there will additional work added to that plan to address more problem areas that became apparent this week. Two of those are between Rock House Road and Arnold Road, which sent water flowing all around Bill and Wanalynn Chapman’s home and farm as well as other property in that section of Dry Creek.

“There are three new areas that we are going to address. One of them is right above the Chapmans. That is simply a matter of the creek bed is full. The the stream channel is filled with cobble, so we going to clean that out so it can flow rather than being diverted onto their property,” Eldridge said.

By mid-day Wednesday, most of the flowing water had receded back into the creek, but without the work to fix the creek, it could happen again with a heavy rain.

“Another area upstream we have a low-water concrete crossing.”

That crossing is a driveway to a mobile home on the other side of the creek. Eldridge said it caused water to divert from the normal creek channel into residents’ yards.

“We’re going to do a change order to get that work done,” while the contractor is still on site, he said.

Greg Quillen, an officer with the Tennessee Natural Resources Conservation Service, met with the project engineer Wednesday to evaluate the new areas and determine what work needs to be done, Eldridge said.

“We’ve all been down there. Everybody’s keeping an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t get in anybody’s house,” he said.

That also allowed officials to get a good look at areas that need to be remediated, but had not yet been addressed.

Eldridge said there isn’t a time frame for all the remediation to be completed, but work will continue until it’s finished. At the same time, more work will start soon to get five home foundations poured and ready for a student volunteer team from the University of Iowa to arrive during their spring break.

“We have 10 houses completed. The plan now is to have five more foundations ready by the end of February,” Eldridge said.

Another part of the repairs in Dry Creek is the Rock House Road bridge, which Eldridge said is still in the works.

“We’re waiting on the state grant,” before work can proceed, he said.

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