By Tia Lynn Ivey managing editor
Morgan County was hit with significant flooding last week after a series of storms overwhelmed local creeks, rivers, and storm drainage pipes—prompting the county to declare a local state of emergency. “It was one of the worst flood I have ever seen in Morgan County and I have been the Emergency Management Agency (EMA) director for 23 years,” said Gwen Ruark. During the bulk of the flooding last Wednesday, five volunteer firefighters were dispatched to Briar Creek Road to rescue a local man, James Brown, stuck on the roof of his white pick-up truck after his vehicle had been suddenly swept off the road by rushing flood waters from the creek. Rescuers utilized a tag-line system, one remaining on steady ground with a rope tied around him and connected to the other rescuers wading through the water to reach the stranded man. “This way if someone loses their footing out there in the water, they can be pulled back to safety so they don’t get swept away,” explained Morgan County Fire Chief Jeff Stone. Brown, once rescued, did not seek medical attention. “Thankfully, he wasn’t injured, just scared,” said Stone. “It was a scary situation to be in.” Other than Brown’s rescue, there were only two minor car accidents in the county on I-20 reported and neither resulted in any injuries. “We were very lucky,” said Stone. However, EMA Director Gwen Ruark noted that the EMA spent a significant amount of time directing inquisitive people away from dangerous flood zones. “I need the citizens to be reminded that if the county puts up road closures and ‘Do Not Enter’ signs, to abide by them and do not go around them. We had more calls of people moving barricades just so they can look at the flooding, and they are putting themselves in danger,” said Ruark.
“We spent more time trying to get people out of these areas just because their curiosity got the best of them.” The county’s declaration of a Local State of Emergency reported to the state that “The County/City of Madison, Georgia has experienced an event of critical significance as a result of flooding event where as heavy rains numerous local roads have been damaged and assistance will be needed to supplement local manpower, equipment and resources to repair these local roads.” The county and City of Madison are in the process of calculating the cost of all the damage the flooding caused, hoping to be placed on Governor Nathan Deal’s State of Emergency list. Neither the county nor the city has estimates on the total cost of damage incurred by the recent floods, but both government entities are hoping to receive funds from the state to help pay for it. “We have county damage assessment teams out now trying to determine the full scope of damage and costs,” said County Manager Michael Lamar.
“The hope is that there will be some assistance from a higher level.” According to Lamar, nearly 30 county roads closed during the storms and subsequent flooding. Most of the roads proved to be in good condition once the water subsided, but others were washed out. Currently, (as of press time) three county roads are closed for further maintenance. Sections of Launius Road, Mergendollar Road and Jim Thomas Road are all closed, while undergoing the replacement and installation of larger stormwater pipes. Lamar anticipates that those roads will reopen by the end of the week.
A portion of Crawford Street, a city road, is also closed while a larger pipe is installed. City Manager David Nunn estimated that the portion of Crawford Road between Williams Street and First Street will be closed between another two weeks and month. “But once we install this larger pipe, that area should no longer experience flooding the way it has in the past,” explained Nunn. “We came through it without incurring major damage to any facilities,” said City Manager David Nunn. “Holistically, I think the county came out OK. We worked together and solved the problem in front of us,” said County Manager Michael Lamar. During the event and post event, as there always is here, there was a good level of cooperation between county, city and state agencies. I think we worked well together in time crisis.”