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Heavy rains flood region

ALBANY -- A strong line of thunderstorms sailed through South Georgia early Thursday morning, dumping torrents of rain over much of the region and causing some localized flooding.

The weather, which passed through the area almost 12 hours ahead of when officials with the National Weather Service predicted, made morning commutes hazardous and landed several vehicles in ditches throughout Southwest Georgia, officials say.

In Albany and Dougherty County, EMA Director James Carswell said that parts of Northwest Albany and Dougherty County had received more than 4 inches of rain overnight and that Public Works crews were concerned about water crossing Nelms Road in the western part of the county.

As the day progressed, crews began watching Gaissert Road at its intersection with Fleming Road and Spring Flats Road as water crossed the streets. Crews also focused on County Line Road at Eliot Drive.

In the city, Public Works officials focused attention on clearing storm drains and keeping water flowing into the system in hopes of preventing a possible buildup of water at Shoreham Apartments near Lake Loretta.

Not far from that area, a home on Nottingham Way was struck by lightning overnight, knocking part of a wall down, Carswell said.

The good news was that severe weather predicted for Thursday afternoon never materialized, Carswell said.

"We lucked out in the sense that everything moved through quicker than we had been told," he said. "The issue is going to be with the local creeks, especially the Kinchafoonee and Muckalee, because at some points during the morning hours, it was rising faster than they could measure."

So far, hydrologists are predicting that the Flint River and the Kinchafoonee will crest above flood stage. The Flint is expected to crest at 23.4 feet, which is a little more than 3 feet above flood stage. The Kinchafoonee is forecast to top out at 16.3 feet, which is about 3 feet above flood stage as well.

In neighboring Terrell County, which by some accounts was said to have received nearly 7 inches of rain overnight, no roads were reported closed, although deputies were out keeping an eye on low spots and responding to several calls from motorists who had sped off into ditches throughout the county.

In Lee County, where the national weather service issued a Flood Warning, Sheriff's officials say that roads remain open and accessible, but that low-lying areas near the Kinchafoonee are a concern. At least one road was reported to have been closed within the city of Leesburg, although The Herald was unable to make contact with the Leesburg Police Department.

Further south, the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for several northern Florida counties and Decatur County in Georgia. A tornado was spotted in extreme north Florida headed toward the Bainbridge area during the morning hours, but there were no reports of damage in Georgia.

Carswell said that NWS officials believe the area will get a respite from the rain until Sunday, when another round of thunderstorms is predicted.