A City of Albany Public Works employee tosses a sand bag onto a piece of heavy equipment underneath the Jefferson Street bridge.
ALBANY, Ga. — Public works and public safety officials urged the public Friday to use extreme caution and to take precautions over the weekend as a storm system that some estimates show could dump as much as 11 inches of rain over Southwest Georgia begins to slosh through the area.
At a news conference under the Jefferson Street Bridge — where crews were busily making sand bags and stacking them on pallets — Albany Fire Chief James Carswell, who is also Dougherty County Emergency Management Agency director, urged residents to prepare for torrential downpours that had been forecast for the area.
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“There’s going to be a lot of rain,” Carswell said. “Our most recent estimates show between five and 11 inches. People who live in low-lying areas should expect localized flooding and use caution throughout the weekend.”
Friday afternoon, the National Weather Service issued updated models that predicted 5.27 inches for Dougherty County and 5.3 for Lee County. The advisory said, however, that depending upon how weather events unfolded Friday night, those predicted amounts could change dramatically.
The biggest concern is areas that sit at the bottom of hills as heavy downpours could overwhelm drainage systems.
“Water over roads is a big concern,” Carswell said. “Again, we urge people not drive over a road that is flooded; manhole covers can float away and for every foot of water, a car can be lifted off the roadway and float away.”
Public Works Director Phil Roberson said the primary concern was localized flooding, but as the system moved through and when the second wave of storms hit Monday, focus would shift to the rivers and creeks.
“Right now, there isn’t that big of an issue with the rivers because it’s been a few days since we got rain,” Roberson said. “But according to how much rain falls north of us and where it falls, we’ll see the river swell next week.”
Roberson said the river wasn’t expected to top flood stage, but areas close to the river banks could see flooding as the river swells to accommodate water dumped upstream.