HOMER – Banks County officials say state or federal help, in the form of disaster or contingency funding, will determine whether the county is able to properly correct an issue that resulted in flash flooding in the Banks Crossing area Friday.
Upon returning from the site of a wash-out area on Steven B. Tanger Boulevard at Banks Crossing Monday afternoon, Banks County Commissioner David Duckett provided an update to other commissioners during a budget meeting.
“We had a pipe to roll up and stop up and water went over the road and washed the bank out on both sides back to the road,” Duckett said.
That pipe failure washed out Commerce water and sewer pipes in the area, exposed a high-voltage Jackson Electric Membership Corp. power line, and unearthed a low-pressure Commerce natural gas line.
“Fortunately, we didn’t have a gas leak or power [issue in the water], but we did have sewage lines and water lines that it broke,” Duckett said. “We had to replace some pipes on each end, and then had to backfill it.”
The road was reopened after corrective action was taken.
“I don’t know how many loads of dirt they had to haul in to get it back up where it’s passable, but now we need to fix the problem, so it won’t happen again in the future,” Duckett said. “Right now, we’re just getting some rough estimates of what it might cost and hoping we can get some money from the state or federal disaster money, or whatever, to help us out, because this is going to be an expensive thing.”
Duckett said the repairs to Steven B. Tanger Boulevard alone could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The busy road connects U.S. 441/Ga. 15 with and is the main artery serving Tanger Outlets, Atlanta Dragway and numerous restaurants and businesses in both Banks and Jackson counties.
The cost of repairing the two-lane road could be higher, depending on the work that has to be done, including repair to at least one travel lane, Duckett said.
“Part of road cracked and messed up, and we’re going to have to mill out some of the road and re-pave, so that’s going to add to the cost,” Duckett said.
The road is safe for travel and open to traffic, but the long-term repair work is imperative to continued use, according to Duckett.
“We hope we don’t get more rain until we get it fixed,” Duckett said.
Asked whether the pipe failure at Steven B. Tanger Boulevard is responsible for the flooding in the U.S. 441 area of Banks Crossing, that shut down dozens of businesses and the busy highway on Good Friday, Duckett said that can’t be ruled out at this time.
“It’s a good possibility that it could have had some play into what happened on down toward 441,” Duckett said.
Duckett said a timetable on permanent repairs will depend on whether Banks County can get state or federal assistance with the costs.
“We’ve got an option or two we can go and patch it back, but if it’s fixed and fixed right, we’re going to need a large sum of money to get it fixed right where it’s a good possibility it’ll never happen again,” Duckett said.
The problem on Steven B. Tanger Boulevard, said to be the third highest-traveled road in Banks County, is not the only issue that came out of Friday’s torrential rainfall and resulting flooding.
“That’s just one of the problems,” Duckett said. “We’ve got problems all over the county where the roads are washed in two. We’re going to have to haul some dirt in. We’ve got pipes out in other places and we’re going to have to haul some dirt in, dig out and put back – and may have to replace them – so it’s going to be a pretty expensive ordeal.”
Earlier in the budget meeting, Banks County Commission Chairman Jimmy Hooper praised residents and merchants in Banks County for their patience on Friday and through the weekend as the county coped with storm-related issues.
“First of all, I want to thank the citizens of Banks County for being so patient and understanding about the weather issues we faced,” Hooper said. “We had some record-breaking rainfall. I don’t think it’s ever rained as hard and as much and as quick as it did over the weekend. We had some major issues with some of our roads. Some are washed out completely and will have to be rebuilt. We’ve had some water lines and sewage lines that got washed away.”
Hooper said members of the county’s legislative delegation, Sen. John Wilkinson and Rep.-elect Chris Erwin, have contacted the county about trying to help gain state assistance.
“Out of this, I’ve got some positive and reassuring words from [Rep.-elect] Chris Erwin and Sen. John Wilkinson, who have already met with the governor this morning about some availability of funds for our people in Banks County, and for the county to recoup some of the losses – help us out monetarily with some issues – so we’re thankful for that,” Hooper said. “Once again, we want to get things back to normal. We hope our restaurants can open back up, the ones that were hardest hit.”
Hooper said Friday’s unprecedented flooding in the Banks Crossing area is not something any community is ever prepared to handle.
“You can’t prepare for something like that,” Hooper said. “We just go back and fix and redo and make plans moving forward.”