By Pastor Timothy Williams
(Elba, Alabama) I am a home and business owner in Elba, Alabama’s Shiloh community. The stormwater flooding from US Highway 84 has undermined my house’s foundation causing it to sink. It has already sunk nearly two feet. Sometimes you can hear the house settling in the ground. This is our home. We were here long before US-84 Highway was built into an elevated four-lane highway in 2018. Shiloh did not flood before the highway was built. The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) constructed the highway less than 40 feet from the homestead I inherited from my grandmother. Sadly, I see my inheritance slowly sinking into the red Alabama mud and my children’s American Dream being washed away and stolen. This is happening all because of the constant flooding caused by the highway stormwater drainage system that dumps water onto my property and my Black Shiloh neighbors’ property. The question, is why?
To add insult to injury, my family is also threatened by a Southeast Gas Company natural gas pipeline that’s just 8 feet from my house. We are afraid that the house is going to hit the main gas line because it's sinking toward the gas line. I was told there is a possibility the sinking house could hit the gas line and blow the house up and the community as well. This is too stressful. No one should have to live like this in constant fear and worrying if they are going to live or die due to flooding or a pipeline explosion. This pipeline needs to be rerouted immediately. We did not create this situation. We are being dumped on because Shiloh is a Black community. We have gotten no response from the State of Alabama because we are a Black community. This would not be happening to us if we were White.
My girl’s bedroom is located on the back end of the house where the main gas line is located and where the house is sinking. They are scared to death. Every time they talk about the dangers we face every day; my oldest daughter gets emotional because she doesn't understand why ALDOT would force stormwater from US Highway 84 onto us causing our home to sink or Southeast Gas Company would run a natural gas line 8 feet from their window. This is a bit much for teenage girls to handle. We are constantly seeking help because we do not want to lose our home, business and property.
It’s obvious the State of Alabama doesn't care about the Black Shiloh residents because it's been 5 and a half years and still no help. That speaks volumes. The state hasn’t reached out to the Shiloh Community to assist or fix the problems the highway caused. When we reached out to Dr. Robert Bullard and the Bullard Center at Texas Southern University, they came to assist and help us get long-term solutions to the highway flooding, gas line and other water, sewer and sanitation infrastructure problems. We are determined to get justice for the Shiloh community.