A FEMA-backed project aimed at protecting Columbus Regional Hospital from a historic flood like the one which incapacitated the facility in 2008 has changed the face of the campus.
2008’s flooding made the upper floors of Columbus Regional Hospital an island as Haw Creek overflowed its banks. Hospital officials hope a year-long, $4.8 million effort to install 15 flood gates around the campus will keep water out of the whole building – even though such flooding is unlikely to happen again for a century or two.
Columbus Regional’s Director of Planning and Development Steve Thomas concedes the flood walls may never be used but says FEMA mandated them anyway.
“They are having to pay the bulk of the restoration work for CRH, which is more than that $4.8 million, so consequently it’s insurance,” Thomas says.
The walls are made from aluminum and reinforced with steel tubes which help make each pane buoyant if too much water seeps below the grates on the edges of each metal panel. The more water the water rises, the more the walls rise to compensate, until they’re perpendicular to the ground.