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Neighbors hoping for action with Magnolia River flooding dilemma

Posted on September 29, 2021

Neighbors have had to move and sell their homes in one Foley neighborhood due to years of flooding.

Those who have agreed to stay and love their waterfront homes are hoping for action from city-state and county officials.

It may be a long shot for everyone involved.

“See those two lines, that was in 2016 these notches because I wanted to show it.

It was that high and during Sally, it was lower but it was still about 4 feet,” said Dan Lecian who lives at the Plantations at Magnolia River.

He’s got the notches in his backyard workshop to prove his home has flooded.

His property has flooded more than once.

“The county, the Corp of Engineers, the state all of them are passing the buck and they are saying he’s going to do it, they’re going to do it or it’s not our responsibility,” said Lecien.

Dan and his neighbors live along the Magnolia River and they all knew it was on a floodplain when they moved here in the early 2000s .but it wasn’t until 2014 that the floodwaters got out of control.

Just ask neighbor Henry Hilsenbeck.

“Is that your backyard? “ – “Yes here it’s already receding it came up through the door – and this was during Hurricane Sally,” said Hilsenbeck as he showed us pictures.

Finding a solution to all of this may not be easy.

“ There’s permitting requirements to do some of that work in the waterway but there’s no funding, there’s no agency that does that for them so every once and awhile there’s some grants available for a city to come in and do some of the work buts very limited and very restrictive,” said Leslie Gahagan the city of Foley’s Environmental Manager.

Gahagan says the city, state, and county are only responsible for the wider parts of the river.

When debris and silt collect in the narrower parts of the river, unfortunately, it’s the homeowner’s responsibility.

“We did some on the very headwater areas of Magnolia River upstream at the airport and downstream of the airport where we were protecting the infrastructure areas and then on the headwaters of the Bon Secour River,” said Gahagan.

Following Hurricane Sally last year, the city of Foley used $200,000 in federal grant money to clear areas from debris along the Magnolia River.

The state Department of Conservation also cleared debris from navigable waters only..and now the county is in the process of applying for $4.8 million in grant money to hopefully build a regional stormwater retention facility.

Something is being done and it may solve some problems along the river, but for folks living in this subdivision, it may not be what they wanted.

“ And we paid a premium to live with this aggravation to live along the River,” said Lecian.

Environmental managers say Unfortunately it all boils down to lack of funding and the fact that more and more development along the river will have an impact on flooding for years to come.


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