Northern Lawrence County most affected by heavy flooding

Lawrence County road crews worked most of Tuesday morning installing road signs along portions of county roadways that saw localized flooding, especially in northern Lawrence County. Some areas like County Road 406 and Alabama 101, north of Town Creek, could remain impassable for days according to continued flooding conditions, County Engineer Winston Sitton said Tuesday morning.

After days of heavy showers followed by thunderstorms on Wednesday, Lawrence County residents should see a short break in the deluge from Thursday night and into the early weekend, according to the National Weather Service in Huntsville.

A reprieve from the rain is expected to last until Saturday, but a 40 percent chance of showers is expected for Saturday night, and into Sunday, NWS reported as of press time Wednesday.

The weather service predicted a total rainfall accumulation of up to five inches for the week. The wet road conditions saw early school closures and delays Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning. 

“We had significant flooding on several roads where our buses travel, and we had to get students home,” Superintendent Jon Bret Smith reported after school schedule adjustments in Lawrence County early this week.

For northern Lawrence County communities, especially surrounding Courtland, Town Creek, and Hillsboro, continued rain could mean extended flooding and road closures that could last days. 

Major road closures began occurring throughout the county late Monday night and early Tuesday, with most affected areas happening around Courtland and in the Lennon Hill community off Alabama 101 north of Town Creek.

“Most issues will clear out after 30 to 45 minutes of a dry spell,” County Engineer Winston Sitton said Tuesday morning. “It’s hard to say about areas like County Road 406 and along Highway 101 that usually always see water coverage in heavy rain, especially if the rainfall continues.”

He listed County Roads 270, 406, others near Town Creek, including County Road 165, or Blue Hollow Road, where tornado recently struck on Dec. 16, among those that should see extended flooding this week. He also listed County Roads 140, 150, the gravel portions of 213, 387 161, and County Roads 593 and 151 that remained closed Wednesday. 

Alabama Department of Transportation crews began preparing for major flooding along Alabama 101, near the Handy Mart about three-and-a-half miles north of Town Creek. By 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, about a one-mile stretch of the highway was closed.

“With continued rain expected through Thursday, we anticipate the road remaining closed during that time,” ALDOT North Region Public Information Officer Seth Burkett said. “It’s currently not as serious as what we had last year, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens with the rain the next couple of days.”

Last February, many Lennon Hill community residents along County Road 406 were unable to access their homes by car for several weeks following heavy flooding in the area. The county road—an intersect of Highway101—and the major highway were closed for nearly a month until they could be reopened to local traffic on March 18, 2019.

Sitton said he hopes that isn’t the case again this year, although much of the road became impassable late Monday night, and conditions had not improved by Wednesday.

In the Courtland and North Courtland communities, things seemed less dire early this week. Courtland Mayor Clarence Logston had no flooding issues to report by press time Wednesday, while North Courtland Mayor Riley Evans said only a small area on James Street was impacted, leaving most residents unaffected.

“If we continue to see heavy rain, we could see some of the same issues we experienced last year,” Evans said Tuesday. “Right now, things look okay. We haven’t had to evacuate any areas, and roads are pretty clear.”

He said areas along Jessie Jackson Parkway, north of R.A. Hubbard High School, have seen delays in road patching thanks to all the rain but hopes days of dry weather will allow road crews to address the issues.

Flooding of Big Nance Creek at Courtland could affect Lawrence County residents into next week, according to NWS. The creek was expected to rise up to 3 feet above its 14-foot flood stage by noon on Wednesday, NWS reported. 

Though NWS predicts a short period later in the week with no precipitation, excess runoff from heavy rains Monday through Wednesday could see continued flooding near creeks, streams and low-lying areas of northern Alabama.

“Do not attempt to drive through a flooded road. The depth of water is not always obvious,” the National Weather Service warns. “As little as two feet of water will carry most cars away. Also, the roadbed may be washed out under the water, and you could be stranded or trapped.”

Additional information is available at http://water.weather.gov. To view local river information, click on the Tennessee Valley, NWS said.

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