Roads fill with water from heavy rain, downed trees cut power
by Ben Cunningham
bcunningham@annistonstar.com
May 18, 2013 | 18607 views |  0 comments | 194 194 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A motorist left his SUV on Blue Eye Road in Lincoln this morning after trying to cross a water-covered stretch of pavement. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
A motorist left his SUV on Blue Eye Road in Lincoln this morning after trying to cross a water-covered stretch of pavement. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
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Heavy, steady rain flooded roads in Oxford and surrounding areas Saturday morning, stranding some cars as the torrent covered the pavement. Meanwhile, downed trees cut electrical power to about 5,000 customers in the Anniston area at the height of the storm.

Rodney Pate, a lieutenant with the Oxford Fire Department, said firefighters evacuated two homes near Coldwater United Methodist Church as water rose in Coldwater Creek, and rescued the occupants of a car stranded on Alabama 21 south of town. No injuries were reported, he said.

Pate said the flooding peaked at about 9 a.m., and had been receding since.

“As of right now, all roads are open,” Pate said just after noon.

David Randle, assistant chief of the Anniston Fire Department, said passersby rescued a 15-year-old boy who was swept into a drainage ditch near the intersection of 15th Street and Quintard Avenue at 1:28 p.m. The boy was carried by storm runoff through a culvert beneath Quintard for several hundred feet. He was found clinging to a concrete pylon at an opening in the culvert near Little Caesar's pizza. Anniston EMS workers treated the boy and released him, Randle said.

“He’s very lucky,” Randle said. “Those drainages run all the way down to South Anniston,” mostly underground.

Randle said Anniston firefighters had responded to flooding along Glade Road and Rocky Hollow. At Leatherwood Church on Bynum-Leatherwood Road, he said, water had risen to the church’s door.

Pedestrians and motorists alike should keep away from storm runoff, he said.

“The water may not look deep, but if it’s running swift it can sweep you off your feet,” Randle said.

Meanwhile, Alabama Power Company crews stayed busy from the early morning hours responding to weather-related emergencies. A broken pole on hotshot curve on Noble Street required attention, as did another on U.S. 78 near the fish hatchery; traffic accidents caused both of those, said a power company worker.

One of the more labor-intensive cleanups began at midday Saturday after a tremendous old tree fell across Maplewood Avenue on the north side of 10th Street in Anniston. The toppled behemoth took out the front porch awning and the metal garage of a brick bungalow on the opposite side of Maplewood, but did not appear to have harmed the dwelling itself.

The noise of the fall caught everyone's attention with earshot shortly before noon.

"It made a sound for me to hear it all the way up there," said Allen Guy, who had been sitting on his porch a block away at Kirkwood and 10th.

After city crews cut up the tree, power crews went about the task of restoring juice to at least two traffic signals and some 300 customers living in neighborhoods around Maplewood. Around 7:30 p.m. a worker on the scene estimated that power would be back on by around 9 p.m. as long as no other complications were found in the area.

Ike Pigott, a spokesman for Alabama Power, said just about 2:45 p.m. Saturday that crews were working to restore electrical service to 1,400 customers who were still without service in the Anniston area. The lights were expected to be back on for most customers by 6 p.m., he said; a handful more, such as those on Maplewood, would have to wait.

Approximately 6 a.m. Saturday, about 5,000 customers in the company's Eastern Division were without electricity, Pigott said.

Beginning early Saturday morning, the National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings for the region as water covered roadways.

Greg Militano, an emergency operations officer with the Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency, said Oxford saw the worst of the overnight storm. He said water had covered several roads, but that the flooding was “nothing too deep or major.”

“We’re just hoping it’ll quit here in a little while,” he said of the rain.

Since Friday evening, up to 6 inches of rain -- accompanied by a generous amount of thunder and lightning -- had fallen on southern Calhoun County, northern Talladega County and northwestern Clay County, based on radar estimates, said Jessica Talley, a meteorolgist with the National Weather Service office in Calera. Most areas north of Anniston in Calhoun County saw an inch or two of rain over the same period, she said.

The weather service forecast for the Anniston area calls for at least a 70 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms through today before the rain is expected to trail off tonight.

With reports from night editor Bill Edwards.

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Roads fill with water from heavy rain, downed trees cut power by Ben Cunningham
bcunningham@annistonstar.com

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