Potential flooding could wash out Pike County roads

Published 3:00 am Sunday, December 30, 2018

Christmas of 2015 was exceptionally rainy in Pike County, with torrential downpours flooding areas and devastating the county’s roadways.

FEMA projects to repair county roads damaged by the floods are just now being completed.

County engineer Russell Oliver said it is too early to tell whether rain patterns right now will have the same kind of impact, but the storms are certainly hampering progress with the roads.

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“The major concern is our dirt roads,” Oliver said. “As you’ve noticed, we’ve been in a rainfall pattern for the previous month or longer where we’re getting significant rain events. The ground is still too wet for us to do too much to the dirt roads. By the time they dry out enough to address them, it rains again. Our dirt roads are not in a good condition right now because of that and this is only going to make matters worse.”

A storm system that dumped up to 12 inches of rain in Louisiana and Mississippi arrived overnight in Pike County.

While Pike was just outside the major flooding risk area, the system still dumped two to three inches of rain in the area and forecasters are projecting even more rain throughout the end of the year and into January.

Oliver said erosion is the major long-term concern with the heavy rainfall.

“The two concerns are flooding over the tops of the roads and also erosion of the roads,” Oliver said. “You can develop scouring problems at bridges and it can undermine the foundations – we have to keep an eye on all of that. The ground gets saturated and wind is usually a factor in these storms, so we could also see some trees blocking the roads.”

The lack of relief from the rain has caused other issues at the road department as well.

“If you look at the bigger picture, we’re in an unusual situation here,” Oliver said. “We normally depend on dry weather in the fall to get a lot of our work done and we did not have a dry fall this year. We’ve not really gotten much relief and it’s had an affect on our work. I don’t see any relief in sight, that’s for sure.”

Some resurfacing projects were already on hold for the holiday season, but Oliver said several in-house projects are in a holding pattern due to the weather. “We hope people are understanding about that,” Oliver said.