New flood gates in place give local city new confidence

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Reporter - Briana Conner
Photographer - Chad Darnall

FULTON COUNTY, Ky. - The City of Hickman, Kentucky is ready to test out three, steel flood gates that replaced their old timber ones after the flood of 2011. The gates didn't get any use last year because of the drought, but now they're are going up as the mighty Mississippi River rises.

In 2011, the city was using old, timber gates reinforced with rocks and sandbags to keep the water out. It was no match for the water that still came squirting out of the seams. After the flood, crews got busy building brand new gates to protect the low-lying areas of the city. They're bringing confidence and excitement as they're ratcheted into place for the first time.

"We do have danger here if it rains tonight or tomorrow," said Hickman County Public Works Director Mike Hartigan. It's danger he said they're now ready to face."I'd like to see water on the gates to try them out," Hartigan said.

The brand new, 90 ton steel gates have been secured in place, and now the city is ready to bring on the rain. Hickman City Manager Johnny McTurner said, "A lot of people are wanting to see these gates tested." He said the gates are not only a source of pride, they're also a source of savings. "Compared to the 2011 flood, as far as putting the timbers in, that took about half a day. This took us about two hours and only six guys. So, it's cost savings labor," said McTurner.

As the water rises, so does confidence that scenes from 2011 won't replay in the future. "I back them 100 percent. We may have a leak here or there, but it won't be anything like the timbers," said McTurner. The Army Corps of Engineers financed the project. They were in Hickman Tuesday morning showing city workers how to properly close the gates in preparation for the flood.

The National Weather Service expects about one inch of rain to fall between Tuesday and Wednesday. That's enough to extend the crest and fall of the river.   

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