Shoals parks trying to recover after flood damage

Multiple parks in the Shoals are damaged by floodwaters.

Posted: Mar. 6, 2019 5:04 PM
Updated: Mar. 6, 2019 6:53 PM

On Wednesday, Tuscumbia City officials were meeting with contractors to see how much it will cost to repair Spring Park. The park took a major hit when swift waters swept through it.

They lost about five 200 pound picnic tables and benches. City officials said the parks carousel, roller coaster and train carts will need repairs to fix all the damage.

"It was 53 inches from the pavement right here," said Tuscumbia Parks and Recreation Director, Joel Kendrick, as he pointed to how high the water got.

Kendrick said most of the buildings were partially submerged. They have been able to clean up some debris. All of the decking on the carousel will have to be replaced, and water got into the train station, rising over the carts.

"All the electronics have to be dried out and checked some of the parts might have to be replaced. Same with the roller coaster, all of the control panels were totally submerged," said Kendrick.

The park is a focal point for the Tuscumbia community. They have had to cancel all school trips to the park for the month of March while they get everything back up and running. Teresa Flannagan told WAAY 31 her daughter was married in Spring Park, and they often bring their grandchildren to the park. She said when she saw how high the water was getting, it broke her heart.

"I would just picture things underwater that I've seen down here for years, and I would just see things in my mind of what it could be ruining with the water and everything," said Flannagan. "I'm hoping everything gets taken care of, and it gets back to the Spring Park we remember."

The floodwaters have gone down in Spring Park, but it's unknown exactly how much it will cost to repair everything. Kendrick said he hopes to have everything back to normal by April 1st. Parts of the park are still without power.

Over in Sheffield, Riverfront Park is still closed because the floodwaters haven't gone down yet. McFarland Park in Florence is still closed and has been for almost three weeks now.

Florence city officials said, because the park is closed, they've had to cancel a small fishing tournament planned for this weekend.

"It's real bad out here. I can't even make deliveries," said Anthony Joyner, who makes deliveries to McFarland Park businesses. "It's pretty bad. I couldn't never imagine it would get that high."

Although the waters have gone down a lot in McFarland Park compared to last week, the park is still closed because of debris and strong currents from the Tennessee River. Currently TVA is spilling 1.9 million gallons per second through Wilson Dam.

The City of Florence's Parks Superintendent, Fred Boughner, said the water hasn't gone down enough for them to fully assess the damage. They have found that all sorts of driftwood, trees, mud and anything that's in the current are washing up at the park.

"We need the water to get off the road, so the electricity department can get in there and check their equipment. Once they determine their equipment is safe to operate, they can power us back up," said Boughner.

Boughner said a few people have gone around the barricades to sight-see, but he says now is not the time to do this.

"We are still flooded so any kind of debris in the road could damage your vehicle if you hit it," said Boughner.

Boughner said he's hoping the waters will go down in the park by Friday, so they can start the clean-up process. With the park still closed, they may have to cancel more events that were planned for March, but that is still undetermined.

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