ALBANY — Even as the National Weather Service was projecting an even lower-than-first-expected crest elevation for the Flint River as flood waters from creeks in Lee County and points north moved inexorably into the rapidly flowing Dougherty County portion of the river today, there was a feeling of unease among residents who filed into Riverfront Park to take photos of the rain-swollen river.

“I keep hearing that we’re going to be OK, but I don’t like the way that looks down there,” one said around noon as the Flint’s waters covered all but the tops of some lights lining the flooded riverwalk and edged nearer the tops of concrete pilings on which the newly rebuild Broad Avenue Memorial Bridge sits.

The National Weather Service once again downgraded the expected crest of the Flint today to 31.5 feet, only slightly into the moderate level of flooding for the river. The waterway is expected to crest somewhere between late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.

But Albany Fire Chief Ron Rowe said the continued good news from the weather service did not change city officials’ vigilance. Nor did it provide comfort to residents along Lover’s Lane Road, who’ve been hardest hit by the waters that are only slowly making their way downstream because of the rising level of the Flint.

“Other than the residences on Lover’s Lane, we don’t have any reports of houses flooding in Albany and Dougherty County,” Rowe said as he and Assistant Fire Chief Eugene Anderson monitored the waters at the North Jackson Street Fire Station Monday. “I think Lee County’s taken the brunt of the blow this time.

“We’ve had reports of outbuildings and garages with water in them, but so far no other homes.”

Still, officials at the 315 Philema Road VFW post were ordered to evacuate that building over the weekend and were expected to take on as much as 4 feet of water before the flood water started receding. And Rowe said he wouldn’t be surprised if structures along sections of Front, Mercer and Barbre streets downtown and near Radium Garden in south Albany also saw flooding.

“There will be water in the (Oakview and Riverside) cemeteries — there always is — and there’s already a little water in the Civic Center parking lot,” Rowe, who also serves as Dougherty’s Emergency Management Agency director, said. “We’re going to keep watch and give folks in those areas all the information we can. Unless we have to order evacuation, we’ll help them make the best decisions about what they want to do.

“Some people moved out as soon as the water started rising, some are still waiting to see, and some are not going to leave until they’re forced to.”

Meanwhile, in Lee County, EMA Director James Howell said he and Assistant (and, during the emergency, acting) Fire Chief Jim Weaver are preparing to hand control of the county’s emergency efforts over to Planning Director Matt Inman. Howell and Weaver have been pretty much full-time residents of the Lee Emergency Management Operations Center since relentless rains led to flash flooding on Dec. 23.

“We’re going to turn this over to Matt, because we’re about to move into a phase where Code Enforcement and Building Inspection will become more important,” Howell said Monday. “And, I tell you the truth, I don’t envy him at all.”

Weaver said he expected the emergency center, which has had a pair of consecutive nights with no emergency calls, to wrap up all but security efforts after tonight.

“We feel very fortunate that we haven’t had more issues,” Weaver said. “I think a lot of that is due to the fact that all of the various agencies were prepared, and they did their jobs well. I think we move now into a phase where we’ll have continued security from the Sheriff’s Office and recovery work with Code Enforcement and Building Inspections.”

LSO Lt. Col. Dennis Parker said the department would continue to provide security for homes that were evacuated until all roads in the county are open.

“We’re going to maintain checkpoints because a lot of the roads in low-lying areas are still too dangerous to travel down,” Parker said. “We’ll continue to have a 24-hour presence.

“I think we had a little luck this time that things weren’t as bad as they could have been. But our folks did their jobs. They knew what to do; they’ve been through this drill a few times. It’s a little sad to say, but for some of us, this is getting to be almost routine.”

Inman said the county’s Code and Building Inspection personnel would start working with homeowners to make sure only licensed contractors are permitted to do recovery work.

“We’ve had people come in here before who weren’t licensed to do the work they promised who, basically, took people’s money and ran,” Inman said. “We’re going to do everything we can to prevent that.”

Even as a state of relative calm settled over the region with the flood waters slowly running downstream, many looked warily to the north and west, where a front threatened to drop more heavy rain on the region.

The new storm front is similar to last week’s in that most of it will pass to the north of Albany, and it is moving from southwest to northeast. The big difference, though, is that the latest front is moving faster and dumping less rain than the area saw last week.

“This new front is not set up like last week in that it’s moving faster and not producing as much rain,” Katie Moore, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Tallahassee, Fla., office, said today. “We expect to see 2 to 4 inches spread out over today (Monday) through Friday. Plus, as of today, there is not much (weather) ahead of it, which is making it move faster than the one we saw last week.”

Rowe, meanwhile, warned of another phenomenon typical of a weather event the area is experiencing.

“The thing about an event like this is, with so many people out of work for the holidays and kids out of school, it becomes something of a sightseeing event,” the AFD chief said. “We understand that people want to see the water, but we urge them to use extreme caution. We don’t want to compound the hazard that the rapidly moving water presents.”

Albany Police Department officers were standing guard today on land adjacent to the Turtle Grove Play Park, directing sightseers away from grounds that allow access to the rising water.

Terry Lewis contributed to this report.

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