Residents ask commission for protection from creek -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Residents ask commission for protection from creek

July 25, 2005

Dougherty County-- Two families, whose homes near Pine Woods Creek flooded, are asking County leaders to make needed improvement to the creek.

They begged county commissioners to dredge the creek to prevent future flooding. But a past lawsuit has commissioners hesitant to start the work.

The now gentle waters of Piney Woods Creek caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage earlier this month, when heavy rain caused the creek to flood.

Homes, stores, and a church filled with water. "I've been in my home 28 years, and I've never had it in my home before," said Homeowner Louann Turnage.

But on July 11th, Turnage's home on Parr Road in southeast Dougherty County flooded. Now nearly two weeks later, water stained furniture and belongings litter her front yard and other yards along the creek. "It just came so fast and swift we knew something else had happened."

Turnage says the creek needs to be cleaned out, so she and other families are turning to Dougherty County commissioners for help. "Maybe dredge it out or make it a little deeper."

"There are many issues involved in trying to solve this problem," said County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard.

Sinyard says the county started cleaning out the creek in 1998, but landowners Liz Klemann and Richard Thomas slapped the county with a lawsuit. The $1 million suit claimed the county didn't get permission and harmed the eco-system during construction.

The case was settled out of court, and now commissioners know dredging the creek would take jumping through a lot of legal hoops. "You've got EPA issues, you've got the ability to get to the land to do the proper things, you've got a lot of folks who'd have to give us access, you've got state regulations."

But county commissioners promised Turnage and other creekside residents that they will work with Worth County to try to prevent flooding in the future.

Commissioner Chairman Jeff Sinyard says if the EPA and landowners agree to the creek clean-up, tax money could pay for the project.