North-west Georgia hit by severe storms and flash flooding

Flooding seen in Chattooga County, Georgia, on Sept 4, 2022. PHOTOS: REUTERS

NEW YORK - A flood watch was lifted on Monday night for parts of the US state of Georgia that were inundated with about 30cm of rain a day earlier, as storm damage was still being assessed.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency in two counties on Sunday after a string of heavy thunderstorms flooded roadways, knocked down trees and submerged homes.

A flood watch expired at 8pm local time on Monday, the National Weather Service office in Atlanta said.

The counties, Chattooga and Floyd, about 90 and 70 miles (145km and 113km) north-west of Atlanta, received an estimated 12 inches (30cm) of rain, according to the executive order, which directs state resources in "preparation, response, and recovery activities" in affected areas.

Homes and cars were flooded in the Summerville area, which is about 80 miles (129km) north-west of Atlanta, said Carmen Hernandez, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Atlanta. The service did not have estimates of how many structures or people were affected as of Monday evening. 

There were no immediate reports of death or injuries.

Excessive rainfall could cause the swelling of rivers, creeks and streams, which "may rise out of their banks", the National Weather Service said on Monday afternoon. Showers redeveloped early on Monday afternoon with rain chances projected to increase throughout the day.

Most areas within the watch area had already received 1 to 4 inches (2.5cm to 10cm) of rainfall by Monday afternoon, with another 1 to 3 expected by the evening, the weather service said.

Images of the storm damage showed flooded playgrounds and washed-out roadways. Aerial video also showed several communities partially submerged by the storms.

By Sunday afternoon, the weather service in Atlanta had advised against non-emergency travel. "Please prepare for the worst," meteorologists said. "Do not sightsee or attempt to save property. Stay or get to a safe place!"

Flooding is a complex phenomenon with many causes, including land development and ground conditions. While linking climate change to a single flood event requires extensive scientific analysis, climate change, which is already causing heavier rainfall in many storms, is an increasingly important part of the mix.

Because of flash flooding at the Raccoon Creek Filter plant, the city of Summerville urged residents to boil all water before drinking, cooking or preparing baby food, adding that the water should be boiled for at least one minute. Residents should continue boiling all water unless notified by city officials.

One Chattooga County resident, Gail Burts, told WSB-TV, an Atlanta television station, that she hadn't expected it to rain or flood like it did.

Burts said she was trapped in her home because road conditions were so poor. "We had a lot of heavy rains, and we've had some flooding before, but not like this," she said. NYTIMES

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