COLUMBUS (TNS) —This week’s torrential rain has caused the worst flooding in more than a decade at the riverwalks on both sides of the Chattahoochee River, and next week’s forecasted rain threatens to extend the flooding.

But as of Friday afternoon, the Columbus Consolidated Government announced that the floodwaters have so far generally spared residences and been limited to mostly streets and public lands, including the water treatment plant.

“A helicopter flyover and on-ground assessment showed no broad scale private property water encroachment,” the city said.

Georgia Power’s release of excess rainwater from Lake Harding and Lake Oliver has caused designed flooding of the Chattahoochee RiverWalk and watersheds to all for water to be released from West Point Dam, the city said.

“It looks like we caught a break from the cessation of rain today and from Georgia Power’s management of water at Lake Harding, which should free up enough capacity to handle the released water coming in from West Point Dam later this evening,” Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said. “Residents are advised to stay away from the river and creeks until floodwaters recede. We continue to urge that citizens do not drive through standing water of unknown depth.”

As of Friday afternoon, the river’s flood stage was at over 34 feet, down about 1 foot from its peak earlier in the day. City officials ask residents to call 911 to report any extreme flooding.

City engineer Donna Newman told the Ledger-Enquirer this is the worst flooding on the RiverWalk since 2003 — and she doesn’t expect it to recede soon.

“It will be a while,” she said. “The concern is what it will be like next week as more storms come, because the creaks already are carrying more flow than normal and the ground is so saturated.”

After local rainfall ranged from 5-9 inches in the past 24 hours, said WRBL chief meteorologist Bob Jeswald, another few inches are forecasted Monday through Wednesday.

“We’ll have a couple of days to dry out,” he said, “but certainly not enough to alleviate any flooding.”

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