Millington resident Trudy Hering wasn't around for the Big Creek flood of 1987, but after living in the area for the past six years, she's heard plenty of stories. She recalls one man's tale of how the living room of his townhouse flooded with two feet of water, and the outside of the house was surrounded by three feet.
"Without thinking, he opened the door. Naturally, the water rushed in and knocked him down," she says. "After he got to his feet, he swam over to the fence where he stayed until someone came by with a boat."
The 1987 flood was the worst in recent years, and the Army Corps of Engineers is hoping it will be the last. They've recently enacted a study of the Big Creek area to analyze flooding and erosion problems, water quality, and recreational uses.
"We built a levee in 1989 after that big flood in 1987, but there's still a problem with flash flooding," said Carol Jones, senior project manager of the Millington and Vicinity Feasibility Study. "The rivers get up pretty good in that area, and we have to close the roads down every now and then. We're studying existing flooding and potential flooding that could cause problems for growing development in northern Shelby County and southern Tipton County."
At a public meeting last week, residents voiced concerns about their land being taken up by the dams that would be used to stop flooding. Others expressed worry that the proposed interstate highway I-69, which may go through the area, would cause erosion in Big Creek leading to eventual flooding. Jones said all public input will be taken into account.
Besides solving flooding problems, the Army Corps of Engineers would like to create hiking and biking trails along Big Creek leading toward the Loosahatchie River. At past public meetings, some residents asked for recreation along the creek to deter additional development in the area. Others, such as 14-year resident Jay Timbs said they would just like to have some sort of natural recreation nearby.
"I'm not sure that hiking trails are necessarily needed, but it would be something different," said Timbs. "People could hike closer to their homes as opposed to having to go out to Shelby Forest."
Jones said the study may take up to three years and will reflect input from periodic public meetings.