Heavy rains swept through Columbus and west Alabama earlier this week, which led to the inevitable. Magby Creek in North Columbus overflowed. Runoff ditches along Tuscaloosa Road weren”t able to hold all the water. Fields and streets filled with water. Roads and homes in the Masonic subdivision flooded.
The scene has repeated itself dozens of times. Each time, residents call on the city to do something, to fix the problem.
We believe government has a duty to protect its citizens. But in the case of this subdivision and this creek, enough has been done.
Frankly, the value of the area doesn”t warrant the millions it would probably cost to channel out Magby Creek, revisit the old drainage system in the area, and make other fixes that would end flooding.
We”re a river town. Along with that comes the creeks that feed the river. The Luxapalila, named a creek but actually a river itself, feeds into the Tombigbee and, despite channeling work along portions, also overflows during heavy rains. Magby Creek, smaller than the Lux, also feeds the Tombigbee. That smaller town creek reliably overflows after most every heavy rainstorm.
Residents along the creeks realize this. Our hearts go out to the plight of the residents there. But that”s where they choose to live, and flooding there is a fact of life. Mother Nature is going to win this one.
Various fixes have been proposed for the creek over the years. A few months ago, the city came to the county with a plan to install electronic sensors along Magby Creek, at a combined cost of $68,000 over three years. Maintenance fees would follow, year after year. The sensors wouldn”t stop the creek from flooding, only alert emergency responders when it”s about to.
District 1 Supervisor and Board President Harry Sanders said he thought the sensors were a waste of money; people in the area know when the creek is going to flood. We agree with Sanders. The plan went nowhere.
Want to know if the Magby will flood? Look outside. Is it raining? The creek is going to flood.
The $2 billion Tenn-Tom Waterway had the effect of mitigating flooding in low-lying areas in other areas of the city, such as Burns Bottom downtown. The bottom still floods, but not like it used to. The city”s new soccer park is going in that area — a perfect use for the land, and one that will reap an economic return for the city.
Unlike water, billions of dollars won”t flow this way again any time soon. And if it did, it would probably be better spent somewhere else.
We do care about the plight of the residents in the Masonic subdivision. But money is tight, and the city has myriad other infrastructure needs. The cost of fixing flooding in the area far outweighs the return.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.