Many affected by flooding

Published 2:04 pm Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Numerous Decatur County citizens were affected by flooding that occurred at low-lying areas as water levels in the Flint River and Spring Creek rose above flood levels and the Big Slough filled with runoff.

Roadways were closed and citizens were forced to evacuate there homes over the weekend as flood waters swamped a number of residential areas with the Flint River breaching its 25-foot flood level and cresting at 30.91 feet on Monday, April 6.

Gov. Sonny Perdue declared a state of emergency for Decatur County as well as nine other South Georgia counties as a result of the heavy rain and severe weather that passed through the state on Friday and Saturday.

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“This weekend’s storms continue to disrupt citizens’ lives in South Georgia,” said Perdue. “The state will continue to respond quickly and to assist those in the impacted areas.”

Several areas in Decatur County hit hard by the flooding were Flint River Heights, located off of Newton Road; River Vale and River View, located off of East River Road; and areas near the Big Slough.

Kevin Dodson, who lives at 164 Flint River Heights Road, did not experience flooding at his own home, but said a number of his neighbors were forced to evacuate as flood waters filled yards and covered the road approximately 50 yards from his home.

He noted that a Department of Natural Resources employee had taken a boat onto the river to encourage other boaters to slow down in the area to prevent boat wake from causing waters to breach sandbags set up at a number of homes along the river.

Dodson, his wife and 4-year-old stepson, Ryles Burch, took part of the day to enjoy some fishing from the flooded, closed roadway.

As water filled the Big Slough over the weekend, residential areas nearby began to see water working its way into yards and over roadways.

A number of people living from Slough Loop Road all the way back to Vada Road were forced to evacuate their homes on Sunday as water from the slough began to submerge the area. By Monday morning, water moving at a high rate of speed had created near river-like conditions as it passed over a section of Slough Loop Road approximately 150 yards in width. The flood water caused extensive damage to the road as large chunks of asphalt fell away into waters.

Two residents of 212 Slough Loop Road, Jacques Friesen and Judy Josey, said they have never seen flooding like this in the area. They said they helped several of their neighbors evacuate their homes on Sunday as flooding became evident.

Friesen said he has been warning local children to steer clear of the water for safety reasons at the request of Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin, who visited the area Monday morning.

“We’re all neighbors in the community, so we keep watch over the local children, animals and elderly neighbors,” said Friesen.

He said their home was currently without running water due to a damaged water main that supplies the home. Friesen said, although they didn’t have running water, that wouldn’t stop him from frying some fish he has caught in the flood water.

The Earle May Boat Basin as well as Cheney Griffin Park experienced severe flooding, making entrances and exits to both areas impassable.

The boat basin, in the area where locals would normally enjoy a day of leisure, looked much more like a lake than an recreation area. On Sunday prior to flood waters overtaking the roads into the boat basin, many were either fishing from the bank or driving around the basin to see the high water.

Chocolate-colored waters filled the playground and beach, submerging swings on the swing sets and leaving only the tops of jungle gyms visible. The campground area was left completely under water as well as the old baseball fields. A pond was formed in front of the Performing Arts Building.

City of Bainbridge workers were forced to use boats to reach and feed the animals that live in the boat basin. Thankfully, the area they are kept did not experience flooding.