Georgia Emergency Management Agency representative Bill Blackwell (left) presents a $130,340.60 check to Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross and Emergency Services Director Pam Tucker.
Photo by Donnie Fetter
The Georgia Emergency Management Agency is helping Columbia County pay for part of a project aimed at flood prevention.
GEMA officials recently gave a check for $130,340.60 to Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross and Emergency Services Division Director Pam Tucker at the county commission office in the Evans government complex.
The check was to reimburse the county for expenses related to a drainage improvement project located at Stevens Creek Road and Reed Creek Canal.
"These funds came from our Hazard Mitigation Grant Program," said GEMA representative Bill Blackwell, who presented the check to Cross and Tucker. "This money has been set aside to help governments, like Columbia County's, to deal with areas that have recurring flooding problems.
"It just makes sense that Columbia County and the state will be better off if we can take steps now to stop a flood before it happens."
The check helped pay for the cost for the engineering design by Davis and Floyd Inc. of Charleston, S.C., for the Stevens Creek Road and Reed Creek Canal drainage improvement project.
The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program is funded on the federal and state level to help local communities stem problems before they happen and to break the repetitive cycle of destruction and reconstruction due to natural disasters.
Administered by GEMA, the grants will reimburse a local community 75 percent of the cost for an approved hazard mitigation project like the drainage improvements proposed for Stevens Creek Road and Reed Creek Canal.
Now that the engineering design has been chosen and paid for, the next step is to get approval and environmental permitting from GEMA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to Columbia County engineering manager John Burnham.
Burnham estimates that it will take six months for GEMA and FEMA to approve the design. The county will then take bids and construction should begin soon afterwards. Once construction begins, Burnham says that it will take 18 to 20 months to complete.
"Basically, the canal is undersized and can't accommodate the runoff generated in the Reed Creek basin," said Burnham. "These improvements will accommodate a much more significant storm than it can currently accommodate.
"For Stevens Creek Road, we'll be raising it approximately seven feet. The culvert that exist there now is inadequate. Currently, a two-inch storm, if the conditions were right, would flood the road."
Approximately a 700-foot stretch of Stevens Creek Road will be raised with the highest point being where the road crosses Stevens Creek.
At the creek, Burnham says that the current three-barrel culvert will be replaced by a unibody construction, which is basically one very large culvert.
If the engineering design is approved by GEMA and FEMA, the project will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 million, most of which will be paid for through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, and be completed sometime in 2005.
"It's a massive undertaking," said Burnham. "This April, it'll be five years since we first began proposing ideas to fix these existing conditions. Now, the end is in sight."
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