Huntsville Councillor Tim Withey told his colleagues at Tuesday evening’s Council meeting that he’s been hearing complaints from ratepayers about how the Town communicated with its residents about flooding issues.
“Some people felt that they were told that everything was going to be okay, it’s not going to be that bad, and then bang all this happens almost to 2013 levels,” said Withey of the rise in Huntsville water levels.
He said he’s heard anger from residents, not just the business people in the downtown affected by the swell of the river, but single-family residences on Lake Vernon and people who have had to evacuate their home due to flooding.
“I think the unique thing about this particular year is that as the director pointed out, it peaked [at the Williamsport guage]on Saturday at 4 a.m. at 183 cubic metres per second, which is not as high as it’s been in the past. Usually, when it peaks it starts to fall off pretty quickly and it didn’t, and so in our experience that’s usually what happens,” responded Huntsville Mayor Scott Aitchison.
He said because the water had been recorded as having peaked at the Williamsport bridge gauge on the Big East River, the expectation was that it would begin to recede soon.
Withey noted that the flood of 2013 was characterized as a hundred-year flood. “Well now it’s only six years later and we’re at it again, so this is the new normal and you know, we’ve gotta wake up and realize it.”
Withey, also a Huntsville insurance broker, said the industry is contracting as far as offering coverage for overland water or increasing deductibles. “So there isn’t that sort of protection as far as that coverage goes because the insurance industry as a whole is taking a beating worldwide.”
The Town is expected to update residents shortly as per a press release issued yesterday at approximately 4 p.m.
As of Wednesday afternoon, water levels in downtown Huntsville were still rising. You can find specific, real-time hydrometric readings on the waterways at this link, to help determine water levels in specific areas.
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