Emergency officials watching rainfall

Rain falls in downtown Albany Thursday afternoon. Several inches of rain is expected to come into the area over the weekend. (Jennifer Parks)

Rain falls in downtown Albany Thursday afternoon. Several inches of rain is expected to come into the area over the weekend. (Jennifer Parks)

ALBANY — It does not appear that the rainfall in this weekend’s forecast will drastically impact the water levels in Southwest Georgia, according to expectations Thursday afternoon.

Albany Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director James Carswell said that officials were monitoring the situation, and at that point, there was nothing being done from an emergency management standpoint. However, city and county public works was out doing some preparatory work such as cleaning out storm drains and reducing holding ponds, which is something those departments do regularly during the summer, he said.

In the meantime, the fire chief said officials were prepared to issue road closures and sandbags if it became necessary.

“We will monitor it (the situation) and adjust. We can man up or man down. We are always on standby,” he said. “We have pre-plans in place for any situation.

“There are no red flags at this point. We are still in a watch and wait mode.”

Carswell also said Thursday the creeks were at a safe level, but that it was too early too tell how those levels would be impacted by the rainfall — which, as of Thursday afternoon, was expected to be roughly five inches through the weekend.

“The location of the rain will impact one creek but not another,” he said. “…If there is a shift one way or the other…”

Lee County Fire Chief James Howell, who also acts as the county’s emergency management director, described the anticipated impact on water levels as “little to none.”

“Five or six inches over several days (isn’t a threat), but if you get that much in a 12-hour period and the ground saturation is where it’s at…The creeks are down well into the banks, so there is no concern unless something develops in the Gulf (of Mexico),” he said.

On Thursday afternoon, there was a disturbance in the Gulf that had the potential to turn into a tropical depression or low-end tropical storm, but Howell said it still might not be a threat as far as flooding is concerned unless it builds and grows to the point that it results in a torrential downpour over a short time frame.

“It’s not so much the amount of rain, but the time period,” he said. “(Over the course of a few days), it has time to run off. (The creeks may) peak up and rise, but they will come right back down.

“We have a lot of dirt roads, but our road supervisor helps take care of them. We also have a lot of sandy soil, which helps absorb the water.”

Howell said there was some potential concern regarding ground saturation, which has built up over a few wetter-than-usual months, but that it was unlikely to cause a problem during the upcoming wet weekend.

“The saturation is not a concern unless we have a hurricane over the Apalachicola (River),” he said. “Then we’d have a situation like we had in ‘94 or ‘98.

“It’s just that season of the year. It’s not a problem unless it is over several days.”

As of Thursday afternoon, Howell said that the Kinchafoonee Creek was below four feet, and that the Muckalee Creek was at four feet. The flood stages for those creeks are 13 feet and 15 feet, respectively.

“We have all kinds of room there,” he said.