Drainage issues from highway drown Shiloh community

A community in Elba is drowning from water draining off a major Wiregrass highway.
Published: Jun. 3, 2022 at 8:10 PM CDT
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ELBA, Ala. (WTVY) - Prior to 2018, a simple dirt road is what took you through the small community of Shiloh.

However, it was only after the state expanded that into four-laned U.S. Highway 84 that a myriad of problems began for those who have lived in that community for decades.

Heartbreaking before and after videos taken by Timothy Williams show one of the last times he knew peace, and the nightmares he and his neighbors have endured every time it rains since 2018.

“It has affected our everyday life. The water comes through and people are scared. Neighbors call each other and say ‘did the water get in my house?’” says Williams, “we have to make sure if we can even get out—just imagine living like that from 2018 until now.”

Williams knows better than anyone, he grew up in the area, and has lived at his home near the highway for the last 18 years. Yet despite constant pleas for help—the problem remains.

“You see them coming by in vehicles, but they never stop to talk to us. We’re experiencing this stuff. We see it, and we’re documenting it. We know what’s going on.”

His 77-year-old neighbor Willie Holstead Jr. reached out to officials even prior to the expansion.

“I went down and talked to the engineer and asked him, and he assured me that it wouldn’t affect me. But you know, unfortunately, that wasn’t the case,” says Holstead.

Now every time it rains, the retired veteran who has lived here for the last 12 years, has no choice but to flee his mobile home.

“Truthfully, I’m angry,” Holstead continues, “And I wouldn’t be that way if someone who you know was responsible for this would show an interest in solving this problem for me.”

Williams meanwhile, continues to explore possible options as he continues to document his plight.

“They could put piping and have the water come out to the other side of the highway on the back side of us. County Road 502,” Williams says.

State Representative Rhett Marques says he was only made aware of the situation about a month ago but agrees a solution must be found.

“After speaking to ALDOT, they’re checking with people he was working within this, and trying to find out what they have done and where they are proceeding,” Marques says, “we discussed the fact that this has been an ongoing problem since the road was expanded to 4 lanes.”

The recently re-elected official wants to see justice but must wait on further information from ALDOT.

“I want the best for that community, and we’re going to work hard to see that it is rectified because this isn’t going to go away on its own,” Marques says.

After four years, this Shiloh community has waited long enough.

“Just like Willie said, every time it storms, he’s leaving,” Williams says “he gets up and he leaves, man is traumatized by all this stuff, his home is sinking.”

“If they were in my situation, they would see things differently,” Holstead says.

The neighbors also mention that despite officials repeatedly telling them they live in a flood-prone area, they never had issues with water until the expansion. Additionally, their varying insurance companies do not, nor have they ever, required them to purchase flood insurance.

ALDOT released the following statement to News 4 regarding the issue:

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