FLORENCE — City employees will be closely monitoring flooding at McFarland Park this weekend, with plans to begin a cleanup as soon as possible.
“We will not go into the park or let anyone in until the water starts to go down,” said Todd Nix, Florence’s community services director.
When it’s safe and roads in the park are passable, crews will be sent in to clean debris and get facilities back in working order.
McFarland Park campgrounds were evacuated and park roads were closed earlier in the week in anticipation of flooding.
With floodwaters creeping closer to Alabama 20, the roadway under the Mitchell Boulevard overpass was under water Friday.
Florence police Sgt. Chris Ticer said traffic officers were out Thursday night and Friday trying to keep people from driving through the water.
“There are barricades up, but people still try to drive through,” Ticer said. “We’re trying to keep people out of a potentially dangerous situation.”
National Weather Service officials in Huntsville said the river is more than 4 feet above flood stage, which is 18 feet at McFarland Park. Weather service officials said that as of 3 p.m. Friday, the flood level was 22.07 feet.
The water is expected to crest at 22.18 feet at 6 a.m. today. Weather service officials anticipate the water level to decrease to 21.28 feet by 6 a.m. Monday.
Colbert County Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Melton said there are still a few roads in Colbert County closed because of flooding.
“We’ve still got some problems at East Sixth Street and on Fennel Lane,” Melton said. “The King Bridge near the Lawrence County line will remain closed because debris has washed up against the bridge.”
Lauderdale EMA Director George Grabryan said most of the flooding issues in Lauderdale County have ended.
“We’re opening roads all over the county,” Grabryan said. “But we need people staying out of creeks and off the river for a while longer. That river is really rolling right now, and they will keep the spillways open for the rest of the weekend, so people need to stay clear of it.”
Nix said he hopes water levels drop enough to allow crews to get into the park early next week to begin the cleanup.
“We would like to reopen Tuesday or Wednesday, if possible,” he said. “Until the water goes down we will not know if anything has been damaged by the flooding. Hopefully, it will be more maintenance and cleanup rather than repairs.
“Our guys have done this so much, they know exactly what to do and how to do it. That allows us to get things back to normal as soon as possible.”
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.