March 13, 2019 10:46:37 AM
While much of the attention over the past few weeks has been focused on the city of Columbus and its efforts to clean up after the Feb. 23 EF-3 tornado, Lowndes County has had its own "heavy lifting" to do.
The heavy flooding that occurred all over the state the week of the tornado also affected rural Lowndes County, particularly roads south of Columbus.
"It's been a hectic few weeks," said Lowndes County road manager Ronnie Burns, whose crews have been busy repairing county roads damaged by the flooding that accompanied the tornado.
"Most of the work was in the south part of the county, in the Old Macon Road area and down around the camp houses on Highway 69," Burns said. "When the river got up, we had a lot of washed-out areas. Mostly, it was gravel roads, but the paved roads had some damage, too, so we did a lot of paving and patch work. We also had to remove a lot of mud and silt around flooded areas."
Burns said much on the work on the gravel roads was a time-consuming effort.
"It's really a three-step process on those roads," he said. "First you go in and put in sand to soak up the water. Then you put in clay and then cover it with wash gravel so the clay doesn't wash out. After that, you can put on the regular gravel."
There has been non-flood-related work, too.
"With all the rain we've had, we've had to go in and fill potholes," he said. "That's pretty much all over the county."
Burns said he's been logging the labor and material costs the department has incurred because of the flood damage.
Just on the flood-affected roads, Burns said his department has used 90 tons of sand, 700 tons of wash gravel and 1,750 cubic yards of surface gravel. Burns said he hadn't calculated total costs of the work to the department yet.
"All of that came out of my budget, but hopefully, we can get some reimbursement from FEMA since most of this work was flood-related," he said.
Burns said his crews helped with city clean-ups on the night of the storm and the following day before turning their attention to the county roads.
"It's been a busy few weeks, but we're pretty much back to normal operations now," he said.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]
1. Report: City out of cash by October COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY