Birmingham pastor says frequent floods are washing away his church

Roebuck church searches for solution to flooding woes
Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 1:38 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 9, 2022 at 11:17 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Village Creek flows through Roebuck, East Lake, and directly beside the church, Feed God’s Sheep Ministry.

It’s something Pastor Frederick Brown didn’t think twice about when purchasing this property around three years ago, until the first major flood.

“You could see the lines on the side of the church where the water flooded, five to 10 inches high,” Brown said.

The situation continued to deteriorate and Brown reached out to 6 on Your Side Investigates for help. When we met with Brown in early June ahead of the historic flash flood, Village Creek was about a foot high, according to USGS data. Less than 24 hours later, floodwater pushed the creek up 10 feet, covering the culvert and the roads that run along Brown’s church. The National Weather Service later indicated the city received a record seven inches of rainfall that day.

“It looks terrifying, it looks more like a river than a ditch,” Brown admitted. “It starts running over the ditch, and it’s flowing on both sides of the street.”

Brown explained it doesn’t take a flash flood to create this dangerous situation, showing a cell phone video of the area flooded the week before. National Weather Service records indicate Roebuck received around an inch of rainfall that day.

“Every time we get a bad storm, I have to cancel our Bible study to keep people out of danger,” he explained.

The force of the water is washing away the church’s foundation, revealing gaps down into the crawl space. Brown says it nearly washed away an air conditioner unit.

“That was a great loss,” Brown added. “Over several winters and summers, the other part of the building didn’t have air or heat – it was a struggle.”

Now the church’s new unit is stacked on rows of concrete blocks to avoid swift floodwater.

Brown said he and the church’s parishioners have done all they can do. They work to keep the church campus clean and presentable with hopes of creating a ripple effect for this neighborhood. So far, he says his calls to the city have gone unanswered.

“Over here it just seems like we’ve been forgotten,” stated Brown. “If we don’t care, the city doesn’t care - they won’t care,” referring to those living near the church.

WBRC reached out the City of Birmingham, who wasn’t familiar with request for help. The mayor’s office ordered an evaluation of the property.

A spokesperson for the city added, “The church is located in the special flood hazard area with a portion being in the floodway, which makes this property more susceptible to minor and major flooding. As a city, we will continue to seek state and federal resources and grant opportunities to help mitigate this type of flooding.”

The city asks residents to follow these protocols if flooding occurs in their neighborhood.

Click here to read more 6 On Your Side Investigates stories.

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