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Sterline Canal is flood waiting to happen

Letter to editor

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POSTED: June 27, 2013 9:00 p.m.

Editor, The city of Richmond Hill has many main arteries, and by that I mean by-ways, highways and waterways with I-95 and highways 17 and 144 being very important.  
However, in my opinion, there is a far more important artery running the length of Richmond Hill, from the overpass at Highway 17 to the Ogeechee River and ignored by our local government agencies. This artery, Sterling Canal, heads near and around the Highway 17 railroad overpass, and then makes its way through the Main Street subdivision, under the rail tracks through Richmond Hill Village and Melrose subdivision, under Timber Trail, and then meanders its way under Harris Trail, skirts the Cypress development apartment complex, back under Harris Trail and heads out to the Ogeechee River. Sterling Canal is a vital drainage canal for Richmond Hill.
In September 1994, Richmond Hill received a steady rain with an accumulation of about 12 inches in about the same time. Melrose homes backing to the canal were flooded, and homes in Richmond Hill Village two blocks from the canal were flooded. The reason: Debris had accumulated at the Timber Trail culvert preventing drainage. The water had nowhere to go but to back up into the side drainage ditches and flood homes. The size of the culverts were increased to boxed culverts. However, with the canal now overrun with an accumulation of dead trees, brush and garbage, it’s obvious these box culverts are not capable of handling the debris and flood waters.   
When another low pressure system moves in to dump 12 inches of rain in as many hours, once again the debris will clog the Timber Trail culvert and back up the waters not only into Melrose and Richmond Hill Village, but possibly flood Main Street and parts of Piercefield. The runoff will be far greater than in the mid-1990s with the addition of the new subdivisions.  
Therefore, it is my opinion that Melrose and Richmond Hill Village residents can expect twice the flooding we had in 1994. Anyone can drive along Timber Trail and witness the accumulation of debris.
 I feel compelled to put Richmond Hill and Bryan County officials on notice; Sterling Canal is in serious need of debris removal from the inception of the head waters to the Ogeechee River. With hurricane season upon us, I fear the disastrous flooding results if the canal is left in its present state resulting in terrible loss or property and, possibly, life.

— Dianne Rutland, Richmond Hill

 

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