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Posted: September 23, 2009 4:34 p.m.

Receding waters: closed roads beginning to open

One more road added to closure list, while others are removed

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 Newton County has been declared in a state of emergency by the governor after torrential downpours have forced the Yellow River to swell to mammoth proportions.

Several roads have been closed and many families have been evacuated from their homes as flood waters flow ever closer. According to Newton County Fire Deputy Chief Tim Smith, the river’s flood level is 11 feet and as of press time, the river had risen to 22 feet. Between Brown Bridge and Ga. Highway 212 above Jackson Lake the river was running at a volume of 10,800 cubic feet per second. Its normal range is between 400 and 3,000 cfs.

"We had some situations last night, this morning and during the day today," Smith said.

Three people were removed from the Riverside Estates Mobile Home Park and the modular community has been evacuated completely. Two people also were evacuated from East Almon Circle. The Georgia Department of Transportation requested that the bridge on Brown Bridge Road near Ram Drive be shut down. Several homeowners have also chosen to self-evacuate.

Because of many street closings in the county, the Newton County School System has cancelled Wednesday for students. Public Relations Director Sherri Viniard said 12-month employees should still report.

Also closed is Cook Road between Mt. Tabor and Bald Rock, Almon Church Road, Crowell Road from Interstate 20 to Brown Bridge Road, King Bostick Road at Channing Cope, Ga. Highway 138 from the Rockdale County line to Ga. Highway 81 north in Walnut Grove to through traffic, Lower River Road at Stewart Road, Brown Bridge Road from Ram Drive to the Covington city limits, both sections of Harold Dobbs Road, Sewell Road at the Morgan County line, the dirt portion of Sockwell Road and East Dollar Circle.

A home on Almon Church Road collapsed when the basement wall and the front wall of the home caved in, according to Smith. The basement of that home reportedly had four and a half feet of water in it. According to a press release from Office of Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine’s office, many victims of the flooding will not be covered unless they had flood insurance on their homes.

"Oxendine said he is concerned that much of the damage may not be covered by insurance, since standard homeowner’s policies do not cover floods," reads a press release from his office.

There have been no fatalities in Newton County as of press time, though Smith said he has seen people in boats attempting to navigate the raging waters, something he is urging citizens not to attempt.

"The river should be back within its normal limits by Friday if we don’t get any more rain," said Smith. "Hopefully, as soon as river recedes, we will open the roads back up. But Brown Bridge will be shut down until the water recedes."

According to the National Weather Service there is a 30 percent chance of rain throughout the night.

The city of Covington has had no incidents caused by inclement weather according to Captain Rob Christopher with the Covington Fire Department.

"At the current time all the reports show that we are in great shape," he said.

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