Residents react to Lee flooding

Photo by Avan Clark

Photo by Avan Clark

LEESBURG -- Thursday afternoon, many residents along the Kinchafoonee Creek were gathered along the driveways and roads leading to their homes watching as the water from the Kinchafoonee flooded across lawns adorned with various Christmas decorations partially submerged in water.

Families were commuting across the waters in boats rescuing animals or gathering clothes and supplies from their homes.

Jordan Holt, 21, was helping relatives load boxes of clothes and other various items into the back of a truck.

The waters of the Kinchafoonee covered the Creekside Drive home's driveway and the water had been shut off to the home.

"We are getting everything we need from the house right now," she said Thursday afternoon. "We are trying to be prepared, not knowing what the rain is going to do."

Holt said the waters had not entered the home yet, but their neighbors house was already experiencing flooding.

"Last time it got within inches of getting into our house," she said. "We have moved everything up to higher shelves to try and avoid any damage."

Brandon Etheridge, 18, was checking on the water levels at his grandparents' and stepfather's homes also on Creekside Drive.

The families were unable to enter their houses with water waist-deep in some areas.

"I got a mess to clean up after this is over," he said.

Etheridge said Monday morning the family had found their camper in a flooded ditch and had to move it to higher ground.

"It got stuck as we were trying to pull it out," he said. "Last time it rained like this it go into our house."

However, Etheridge's family does find some humor in the situation that often plagues local residents.

Etheridge's stepfather had a canoe floating in the waters among the house's partially covered mailboxes with a bear in a Santa hat.

"We do it every time it happens," said Etheridge.

Lee County Fire Chief and EMA Director James Howell said the Kinchafoonee Creek, which was at 16.9 feet Thursday, continues to be a problem.

"The Muckalee is doing much better than the Kinchafoonee," he said late Thursday evening. "The Muckalee finally crested on its South end and seems to be receding slightly."

Muckalee Creek was at 12.74 feet Thursday.

Howell said the Kinchafoonee Creek was not rising as fast as it had in the beginning of Thursday morning, but the threat of more rain today may bring additional problems.

"We have been in constant contact with the National Weather Service in Tallahassee," he said.

The NWS has predicted several predictions of rainfall today. Most predict between two to four inches of rain.

"The heaviest rain is predicated to occur between 10 p.m.-6 p.m. (Friday)," Howell said Thursday.

He said the rains' impact on the floodwaters will be determined by what particular pattern the weather follows.

"We are going to get more rain and residents may want to take precautions and choose to make other plans," said Howell.

Margaret Slaughter, 77, said she has lived next to the Kinchafoonee for many years and has experienced numerous flooding, but the current situation worries her.

"I thought I knew about the pattern (of the flooding), but now it has changed," she said.

Slaughter said she never predicted that she would wake up Thursday morning to find both of her dogs stranded in her flooded backyard.

"When I woke up, one was standing by a tree with its paws up and when the other one saw me she started to swim towards me," she said.

Slaughter was able to wade through the waters to rescue her other dog.

Her family was at her home helping her pack.

"I'm going over to my daughter's house," she said.

Howell said parts of Creekside Drive are closed as well as Cypress Point Circle.

Lee County residents are encouraged to visit Lee County's Web site (www.lee.ga.us) for updates on creek and river flood stages information.

Minor flooding has also occurred in Albany in the Radium Springs area, but no roads have been closed.

According to Albany Dougherty EMA Deputy Director Jim Vaught, the Flint River was at 26.03 feet Thursday and was receding.

"We have had no indications of any problems so far," he said. "The holding ponds still have room, so I think we will be OK."