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River flooding worsens, county offers evacuation help
Ogeechee expected to crest above 16 feet

With flood warnings for the Ogeechee River from Jenkins to Chatham counties, Bulloch County Emergency Management Agency is offering evacuation assistance for anyone trapped or endangered by rising waters.

In the video above, Ogeechee River waters flow over Riverview Road on Tuesday, cutting off Woodwards Landing from any main roads as flooding in Bulloch County worsens as rains continue.

As of Tuesday, only one resident – a man living at Hickory Bluff in the southern end of the county – had been evacuated. The Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office and Georgia Department of Natural Resources assisted in relocating the man, trapped by the swiftly rising waters, and had to “put in” at the Steel Bridge landing, said Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn.

The man, who was not identified, had an alternate location at which to go, and although he was surrounded by water, was all right except for not having fresh water available, he said, The swollen river and excessive rainfall over the past couple weeks has compromised wells and septic systems.

The Ogeechee, like other rivers in the area, has escaped its banks and is expected to continue to rise a few days before starting to ebb. This will likely be exacerbated by expected rainfall this week, Wynn said.

The National Weather Service issued flood warnings along the Ogeechee from Jenkins to Chatham counties, The warning for Jenkins, Screven and a portion of Bulloch at the northern end is expected to have expired Wednesday, but a warning issued for the rest of Bulloch, Bryan, Effingham and Chatham counties is listed as “until further notice.”

The Ogeechee is expected to reach or surpass 16 feet in places. The flood stage at Eden is 11 feet. “Moderate flooding is occurring, and major flooding is forecast,” Wynn said. “At 16 feet, water approaches portions of Old Jenks Turnpike (and) water enters a few homes near the river.

The National Weather Service also shows a flood warning issued Tuesday for the Canoochee River in Candler, Emanuel and Evans counties.

 

The evacuation

 

Bulloch County EMA issued an announcement of flood evacuation assistance for residents along the Ogeechee River Monday.

“Bulloch County EMA has received a couple of calls from residents along the Ogeechee River requesting assistance in evacuation,” Wynn said in the release.. “If you feel you may need assistance, don’t wait until an emergency arises.”

This is not a mandatory evacuation order, but he reminds people that “911/emergency assistance may be delayed due to flooding along the river.” With the river expected to rise even more should the area see a significant rainfall the rest of the week, “Take that into consideration when making plans as the river may continue to flood and rise for the foreseeable future,” he said.

The weather does not affect only those living along the rivers. The heavy rains and flooding of smaller creeks and branches, with ponds overflowing and dams breaking in some places, resulted in severe damage to some area dirt roads, with a number of roads closed due to water over the roadway of extensive damages. Bulloch County Public Works Director Dink Butler has said crews are working overtime, but with over 700 miles of dirt roads and the level of damage caused by constant rainfall, the repairs will take time.

Wynn said the following roads were closed as of Tuesday:  Buie Driggers; Holloway at Bryant Still; Cox Futch at Pepercorn; Bryant Still Road at Stilson-Leefield; W. O. Peacock from Clark Farm to Cedar Lawn; Honey Bowen at Ben Grady Collins; Sinkhole at Jo Dan; Macedonia; a portion of Miller Street Extension; Riverview at Old River Road; Old Portal between Moore and Denver Lanier; E.C. Hunnicutt at Fate Deal all the way to Metts. The river was flowing over a large portion of Williams Landing road as well.

For assistance in evacuation, Wynn said residents should call the Bulloch County EMA Office at 912-489-1661 (choose option 1 for communications) or the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office at 912-764-8888.

 

Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at 912-489-9414.