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County offers little hope for residents to counter flooding

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RUSTY WELLER/Ellis County Press Managing Editor

WAXAHACHIE - Governmental log jam took on a new meaning at Monday's Commissioners Court meeting. Residents along Red Oak Creek want a jam of real logs cleared away.

'Continuous flooding has created several problems for property owners along this creek,' Virgil Ellzey told the commissioners. 'There are log jams as high as the bridge.'

Ellzey claims the jam under the bridge, located on Shawnee Road south of Bells Chapel, caused water to rise and threaten area homes or damage property during recent flooding. He appeared before the court to ask for assistance with an Army Corps of Engineers survey, perhaps even a 'spanless' bridge without supports to catch logs and debris.

Ellzey sent a petition signed by 23 residents effected by Red Oak Creek flooding to Precinct 4 Commissioner Ron Brown and Judge Al Cornelius, asking for the issue to be placed on Monday's agenda. He asked to 'discuss as to how the county plans to deal with the problem.'

Commissioner Brown offered little hope.

'We've helped you every way we can,' Brown said. 'We've even raised the bridge three feet.'

Brown agreed with Ellzey's contention that development in the area will cause flooding to get worse. Pointing to growing Cedar Hill as the source of extra runoff, Brown said, 'More houses are being built, and there's going to be more flooding.'

Commissioner Hallie Robinson echoed the forecast.

'I've lived in the county 51 years, and I've seen more flooding in the last 10 than the previous 41,' Robinson said. 'Cotton fields used to hold the water in fields … but now it goes right to the creek.

'The situation is too big for the court and the taxpayers,' Robinson said. 'If it's to be handled, it's going to be by the state. I'm going to tell you right up front: I don't know what the answer is.'

Saying federal funds will be needed, Brown offered the names of people to contact at the Army Corps of Engineers for help. Ellzey said he already has spoken with the agency about a study to determine a solution to the flooding.

'We, the taxpayers, need help on this (study),' Ellzey said. 'The state will pay 40 percent of the study. We need help with the rest.'

Ellzey said the Army Corps of Engineers reportedly promised to help if the residents have a sponsor.

'I'll be glad to write a letter,' Brown said. 

Ellzey said he has asked Brown several times to clear away logs and debris that block the flow of water under the bridge. Logs were removed and cut up but left on the bank to be washed back into the creek. He further requested dirt to fill the eroded area around the bridge, and Brown agreed.

The June flooding left residents with debris they had to clean and remove at their own expense. 

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