Challenges Persist for North Alabama Residents: Black residents in a swiftly expanding North Alabama city express enduring neglect, citing issues such as the absence of street lights, recurring flooding leading to mold, and unaddressed sewer problems in their older community.
Army veteran Bobby Sledge, 72, and fellow residents are urging the City of Athens to address their community’s challenges. Sledge recently shared with AL.com that he had to replace his house floor in October due to flood damage, revealing mold growth in his 1965-built home on Strain Road.
“We’ve always had a problem with it, so recently, we just took all the floor joists and things out because they were full of mold and stuff,” Sledge said. “And it comes from the water; so many problems with the flooding and the mold.”
Residents, including Sledge, express frustration over two sewer lines passing through the area without the city allowing connections. Willie Hardy, another resident, highlights sewage issues, foul-smelling water, and the lack of street lights causing deer-related accidents.
The Limestone County chapter of NAACP became involved in April of last year after residents complained. Despite door-to-door surveys initiated by the city last month, residents demand more immediate action on public improvement needs, emphasizing issues like a public nuisance on Luke Street.
Sharon Wilson, accompanied by her 74-year-old mother Betty, details concerns about stinking water affecting laundry. Wilson questions the city’s response to their pleas for help, expressing worry about the potential health impact of mold on her mother.
Diane Steele, a spokesperson for Limestone County NAACP, notes that these concerns date back years, accusing the city of installing sewer lines for newly constructed housing while neglecting existing residents’ requests.
Athens Mayor William “Ronnie” Marks, recovering from surgery, missed the recent city council meeting. The Limestone NAACP calls for a drainage and sewage system plan for the area by January 2024, urging city leaders to respect all residents, old and new, and advocating for an equity specialist in the growing city.