Avondale flooding update: Work underway one week later

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Dramatic scenes from last week’s flood were caught on video by Coby Lake with the Avondale Brewing Company.

That video shows water flowing through the street, popping up manhole covers, flooding cars and businesses on 41st Street South. The water also did damager further down 1st Avenue South where workers at warehouses spent the next day pumping out water and trying to dry out equipment.

On Wednesday city and county workers and representatives from two railroad companies, met to look at the problem in Avondale.

“Every utility company’s been out here, Jefferson County sewer’s been out here working on their lines the city is looking into all of their lines. We’re cleaning all of our lines. We’re inspecting them all. And you know we’re going to make this as good as we can make it,” said Fred Hawkins, Birmingham City Engineer.

Don Lupo with the City of Birmingham calls it a productive meeting saying ATN Railways has agreed to cut back vegetation and dredge a partially clogged drainage ditch.

“I think the problem will get better. Are we going to solve the problem?  I don’t know,” said Lupo.

Fast forward to Sunday and work on the ditch has begun.

Business owners hope it’s enough so they can find another use for the sandbags now positioned at their front doors.

“Obviously it was a big problem Sunday for our businesses, we all rallied together and got the water out of our store so that we were able to get cleaned up and opened on schedule. But we’re hopeful that there’s a long term solution,” said Jen Barnett, Freshfully Market and Cafe.

Some business owners are also worried about sewage spilling out into the streets during the floods.

“Obviously if there’s sewage going into the waterways then that’s a big problem, but we don’t know that for sure yet. We think that that’s an issue,” said Coby Lake, Avondale Brewing Company. “In Jefferson County I can assure you that if the sewage is getting into the waterway that the EPA and ADEM will make sure that that ceases.”

Don Lupo said Wednesday that it was too early to know what, if any, impact the flooding had on the sewer system or vice versa.

“They’ve had some backups in some of the businesses, but only on one side of the street so we’re a little early to be saying this is what the problem is or whose line is what. We’re all in sort of investigating at the moment,” said Lupo.

City Engineer Brian Hawkins also weighed in on the question.

“We don’t know of any sewer lines that are overflowing and getting into any streams or streets. We haven’t found any evidence of that,” said Hawkins.

Up the street between two Norfolk Southern railroad tracks 41st Street South is closed as the city prepares to replace an eroded culvert. The pavement on one side of the bridge is sinking and Don Lupo says the bridge will be closed until the work is complete.

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