Record rainfall soaks the county

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If you’re wondering whether it’s time to start building an ark, you have reason to.

With the end of the month that came Wednesday, the National Weather Service has reported that it is the heaviest September rainfall on record, based on numbers collected at the Apalachicola Regional Airport.

It’s also the wettest August on record.

Which makes it the wettest two-month period on record. These records don’t go back to Noah, but they do go back to 1975.

“Apalachicola received about 7.5 inches of rain on Sunday. Phoenix, Arizona averages 8 inches of rain a year,” wrote Apalachicola Mayor Kevin Begos. “In an average year Apalachicola receives 60 inches of rain. That means we received 12 percent of our yearly rain in a single day, and even more recently from Hurricane Sally.”

The National Weather Service reported about 18.5 inches of rain in September, and that’s with four days’ worth of total rainfall missing from the records. In August there were 16.5 inches of rain, with all 31 days included.

Add those two months together and there was 35 inches of rain, which is more than 5 inches than the next highest two-month period, in summer 2012. This year’s August and September accounted for more than half the city’s typical annual rainfall.

As expected, the rain that drenched the county had an effect on the city’s aging sewer system, which once again saw malfunctions due to the deluge.

“City employees and officials are working around the clock on sewer problems, and additional help has been called in from other cities, engineers, and independent experts,” Begos wrote on social media to the city. “The terrible problems of the last few weeks are almost unprecedented, except for previous hurricanes.

“We have already submitted sewer repair grants and more are in the works. The city is aggressively working on other improvements:

  • A new electronic sewer monitoring system
  • A new, more powerful vacuum trailer to restore service faster
  • Emergency repairs of old pipes
  • Grants to research a new sewer plant
  • New camera equipment to examine leaky pipes

“About $200,000 has been spent on the sewer system in just the last few months,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, major repairs will cost far more than that. Multiple huge rains, the river at flood stage, old pipes, and maintenance failures in previous years all contributed to the current problems.

On top of all that COVID has created staffing issues - we no longer have inmate work crews to help with basic city maintenance,” Begos wrote. “Thank you for your patience.”

This article originally appeared on The Apalachicola Times: Record rainfall soaks the county

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