Flint to crest Sunday

Published 4:31 pm Friday, April 3, 2009

Local emergency officials are advising people who live along the Flint River of imminent moderate flooding this weekend.

The Flint River at Bainbridge has breached its flood stage of 25 feet and was measured at 25.89 feet as of 11:45 a.m. on Friday morning.

The river is expected to continue rising and crest at 31.3 feet by 8 p.m. Sunday, according to the Southeast River Forecast Center in Peachtree City, Ga.

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The Big Slough, a natural depression that runs from Mitchell County to southern Decatur County, was full of running water when observed from East River Road on Friday afternoon.

If the Flint River does reach 31 feet, it will surpass the most recent significant flood level, reached at 29.4 feet on April 1, 2005. That flood affected houses in the Flint River Heights, River View and River Vale subdivisions north of Bainbridge. Residents in the three neighborhoods were being notified Friday of the forecast for flooding and its potential to wash out roads, said Bainbridge City Manager Chris Hobby and Decatur County Emergency Management Agency Director Charlie McCann.

“[In April 2005], one end of River Vale was four feet underwater,” Hobby said. “We’ve gotten word to property owners that there is the potential for that to happen again.”

No mandatory evacuations were being conducted as of Friday. The Post-Searchlight’s Web site, www.thepostsearchlight.com will be updated as conditions change. People may also monitor the latest river levels and forecasts at www.weather.gov/ahps/

“We’re continuing to monitor the river, Spring Creek and Big Slough,” Chief Deputy Jim Morris said Friday. “Our rescue team is on standby if any individuals become trapped in their homes. Hopefully, people will have had time to make ready.”

The National Weather Service warns that the Elberta Crate and Box Company log yard will begin to flood and minor damage likely at the state dock facility if the river reaches 30.5 feet. Tim Dean, operations managers at Elberta Crate and Box Company, said the log yard and saw mill are the lowest areas of the property, but will not affect operations if flooding does occur.

On Friday, the river level was approximately 2 feet from the shore line area where the logs are kept. Dean said the area will begin to flood if the river level reaches 31.5 feet as is forecasted for Sunday evening.

He said if the river level reaches 32 feet, the silo and boiler house, which house electronic equipment, will be in danger of flooding and could affect production.

“We will keep watch over the water level, and if we expect it will come up to the area, we will build a dirt dike to keep water out of the facility,” Dean said.

A dirt dike was built around the facility during the 1998 flood with a number of loads of dirt being trucked in to build a dike that kept water from entering into the facility, according to Dean.

The Spring Creek, as measured near Iron City, was at 20 feet as of Friday morning. It is expected to crest Friday evening at 20.12 feet and fall below flood stage on Sunday. The Spring Creek’s prior crest was at 20.78 feet on March 30.

Officials with Woodruff Dam at the downstream end of the Flint and Chattahoochee rivers said they are opening as many gates as possible without causing too much water being released that it would harm Blountstown. As of Friday afternoon, the dam was releasing 139,000 cfs per minute.

Rainfall floods streets, highways

City of Bainbridge and Decatur County road workers and local law enforcement officers worked diligently on Thursday to ensure motorists’ safety as Bainbridge and Decatur County were hit by another severe thunderstorm. Five strong storms have brought damaging winds and large amounts of rain have passed through Southwest Georgia over the past week as grounds have become saturated with rainwater.

Storm drains in Bainbridge were inundated with water and some streets in the Lake Douglas area didn’t recede until Friday.

The Georgia State Patrol closed U.S. 84 East near the border between Decatur and Grady counties for more than two hours Thursday night because of water over the highway. Bainbridge Public Works had to install a temporary pump at a holding pond off Ponderosa Lane, work to keep water out of homes on College Street and with the help of Public Safety officers, put up warnings and barricades throughout the city.

“I think our folks did an excellent job,” Hobby said. “We’ve had experience with this, so we know where the trouble spots area and try to anticipate and take corrective action.”

More than 12.70 inches of rain was observed at the University of Georgia’s Attapulgus Research Station between March 26 to April 2. Some residents with rain gauges said rain fall may have exceeded 14 inches closer to the Bainbridge area.

More rain is possibly in store for Decatur County on Sunday, when the National Weather Service predicts there will be a 40-50 percent chance of rain.

Closings due to weather

As a result of the storm, Decatur County schools, Grace Christian Academy were closed on Friday—students are now on spring break and will resume classes on April 13.

Bainbridge College canceled Thursday afternoon classes and closed on Friday. Both the college’s main campus and Early County campus will be open for normal operations today. People may check the college’s Web site, www.bainbridge.edu, for updates.

According to the City of Bainbridge, Decatur County Road Department and Georgia Department of Transportation, the following roads were still closed as of midday Friday:

• State Road (SR) 309, from milepost 12.5 to 13.0

• SR 262 South, from mile post 20 to 21

• South Monroe Street, from Shotwell to Evans streets

• Batten Road, from Robert Stephens to the work camp

• Frank Brown Road, from Seven Bridges to Jinks Crossing

• Pecan Street, from addresses 209 to 202

• Cedar Grove Road, from addresses 432 to 538

• Nebo Church Road

• Spooner Road, from address 204 to Murray Road

• Arnold Road, from address 427 to Bettstown Road

• Scott Road, from Pinegrove Road to Hatcher Road and Brinson Airbase Road to Josey Lane

• Rock Pond Road, from Brock Cemetery Road to Eddie Avery Road

• Big Slough Landing

• Jinks Crossing Road, from 640 to Frank Brown Road

• Seven Bridges, from Jinks Crossing Road to address 326

• Moses Chapel from Booster Club to Jinks Crossing

• Whispering Pines Drive, from address 157 to Whispering Pines Lane

• Millwhite Road, closed from the railroad tracks to Willis Road

• Palmer Road, from Friendship Cemetery Road to Old Whigham Road

• Cooter Bouie Road, from address 431 to Betts Mill Road

• Bethel Road, from Brinson Airbase Road to Old Eldorendo Road

• Adams Powell Road, from Campbell Drive to Lane Powell Road

• Covey Rise, from Hidden Springs to the dead end

• Priest Road, from Georgia 309 to Baxley Road

• Swanwall Road, at the intersection with Cyrene Road

• Johnny Skipper Road, from address 127 to Highway 27

• Thompson Road, from address 180 to Andrew Avery Road

• Adolph Brock Road, from Georgia 97 to Martin Road