When it wasn’t so dry

Published 8:37 pm Saturday, January 10, 2009

This week we ran pictures in The Clanton Advertiser and on www.clantonadvertiser.com, our Web site, showing water pouring through the gates on both Mitchell and Lay dams. It was a good sight considering our area has been under drought conditions for much of the past two years.

The lack of rain has become somewhat commonplace in this part of Alabama but it has not always been that way. Under normal conditions Chilton County has been blessed with sufficient rainfall for crops and our lawns.

In fact The Clanton Advertiser in the past 30 years or so has published more stories about excessive rainfall in the county than it has about drought conditions. Once when the late Basil Clark was mayor of Clanton I remember touring the flooded streets of our city with him. I remember well taking a photograph of a person unloading a boat on Jackson Avenue to help rescue people who were trapped in their homes by flood waters.

That day we had several inches of rain recorded in a matter of hours. The ground was already saturated with rain and the creeks that travel through the city simply could not hold the run-off within their banks.

A small lake formed that day at City Park near where the current day tennis courts are located that covered the park past the area where the football field is now located. Flood gates at both Lay and Mitchell dams were open and the amount of water passing through the dams on its way downstream was impressive to say the least.

Although the amount of rain was nothing like what was recorded when several areas of the city flooded years ago, rainfall the past several days forced Alabama Power to open five or so flood gates at each dam on Wednesday and to alert property owners downstream to take appropriate measures for rising water.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor (www.drought.unledu/DM/monitor.html) the rains of earlier this week and last week helped but the area is still considered to be under abnormally dry conditions. Hopefully our area will continue to receive rain and there will be sufficient ground moisture for our gardens, orchards and lawns this spring.