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Norfolk Southern says heavy rains overwhelmed Flowery Branch culverts

POSTED: May 22, 2013 12:01 a.m.

Norfolk Southern officials said Tuesday that culverts in Flowery Branch were overwhelmed Sunday by the heavy rains that fell overnight.

Rick Harris, director of corporate communications for the railroad, said flooding was not about culvert failure, rather it was the amount of rain that fell in such a short time that overwhelmed everyone’s culvert systems, including the railroad’s, which were recently fortified. Those culverts include one under Flowery Branch Creek, near Park Drive and west of the tracks, and two at an unnamed stream about 900 feet south of Flowery Branch Creek, he said.

“The situation there is that we were faced with a 100-year flood situation ... better than 100-year flood conditions,” Harris said.

With that much water in such a short period of time, there is no feasible way to control its pooling, he added.

The culverts were constructed under a 1957 agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to Harris.

In March of this year, three Norfolk Southern culverts were found to have failed.

“We spent the better part of two months; we were working around the clock to stabilize the culverts there,” he said. “We’re back up to track speed.”

On May 7, before the flood, the railroad contacted the corps to work on a permanent agreement on how to maintain the structures.

Harris said trains continued to run as usual that day and that no engineer reported any water-related issues.

“At no time did the water get over the tracks,” he said.


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