OUR OPINION: Raise awareness of flash flooding

Daily Journal

The flash flooding in southwest Tupelo last week caused understandable concern in the area because the high water almost reached into residences, and it blocked a busy intersection for a time.

Flash flood issues aren’t uncommon in Tupelo. In some cases, the same places repeatedly have the same problems when heavy rainfall overwhelms existing drainage and storm sewer infrastructure. However, like summer thunderstorms that caused the flash flooding Friday, it is a rare rain system that causes citywide flash flooding or prolonged high water.

Parking lots for some businesses and manufacturing companies on South Green Street, for example, have experienced flooding periodically, sometimes to the point of floating vehicles that aren’t moved in time to high ground and coming within inches of entrances to buildings. The flood water subsides quickly, and through the years measures have been taken by the city to stanch the water rising from creeks and ditches in the commercial district.

The same measured, sensible approach has been prescribed for the area in southwest Tupelo. A photo survey will be made inside drainage pipes to determine if obstructions contribute to the problem and another major culvert is planned to speed runoff.

The flash flooding last week was caused by a weather system forecast by the National Weather Service in Memphis for 22 counties stretching from the north Delta to the Alabama-Tennessee state line bordering Tishomingo County.

A flash flood watch was issued for 22 out of the state’s 82 counties including Alcorn, Benton, Calhoun, Chickasaw, Coahoma, De- Soto, Itawamba, Lafayette, Lee, Marshall, Monroe, Panola, Pontotoc, Prentiss, Quitman, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tippah, Tishomingo, Tunica, Union and Yalobusha, so residents in those counties had time to prepare for the high water.

All Tupelo residents need to remember that a significant part of the incorporated area sits in a flood plain, which is an official federal designation and a clear caution that the ground is prone to flooding. Building restrictions often apply, and federal flood insurance is usually required, especially on property with federally insured mortgages.

The city maintains up-to-date flood plain information and it is available at no charge.

In addition, the city is almost always in the process of updating drainage and flood control infrastructure because flood zones change with the construction of additional structures altering water runoff.

Flooding problems should be brought to the city’s attention because sometimes small alterations can resolve problems.