Over a very rainy weekend, some of the county’s lowest-lying areas spent some time under water, including Sockwell and Sewell roads, along with an unfortunate picnic table at Turner Lake Park.
And since some smaller streams and creeks can remain swollen for days, parents need to prevent or carefully monitor children playing in such areas, said Jody Nolan, deputy director of Newton County’s Emergency Management Agency.
The county received around 4 inches of rain over two days, which when combined with water from upstream, flooded some of the regularly reoccurring problem areas, including Sockwell Road where it meets Mount Tabor Road — which was under 4 feet of water around noon Monday, and the lower part of the Riverside Estates Mobile Home Park. Both of those areas are located next to the Yellow River.
More widespread flooding begins to occur when the Yellow River gets above 16 feet, but the National Weather Service was predicting the river to crest at a height of just under 12 feet, according to a river gauge in Conyers. Nolan said the river’s level in Newton County may get up higher but not by much.
Other low-lying areas include Sewell Road near its intersection with Hodges Circle close to the Morgan County border, off the Little River, and the areas around Snapping Shoals and Old Snapping Shoals roads off the South River on the Henry County border.
The good thing for Newton County is that most of its lowest-lying areas are uninhabited, Nolan said. In one community in the Snapping Shoals area, houses remain, but residents have left because the flooding became too much of a headache.
It’s the same story with the Riverside Estates Mobile Home Park, which used to lease out the land closest to the river, but has left most of it vacant since the major flood of 2009. Similarly, the houses along Sycamore Trail in the same area are also abandoned.
Nolan said a half-dozen or so homeowners affected by the 2009 flood were eligible to receive federal relocation assistance, which would pay residents for their houses and called for local governments to then demolish the homes.
However, Nolan said only two of the owners took the offer, one on Sycamore Trail and one on Brown Bridge Road where the Yellow River crosses the road.
Most of the other owners simply left their houses, anyway; because they turned down federal assistance, those owners will not be eligible for it in the future. That means those houses will likely sit and continue to deteriorate over the years.
Keep kids safe
Nolan urged parents to be careful if they have creek or river access in their backyard and small children living at home.
"Some creeks will be up higher for a few days; these are the not the same creeks that they were a week ago. They’re not a babbling brook anymore," Nolan said, implying that stream’s flows and the force of the water could be much higher.
"Especially if that creek goes into a culvert, a child playing and splashing around could easily fall in, and, if they do submerge and float down to a culvert that runs under a road or railway. That would be tragic," Nolan said.
Nolan said the county shouldn’t see any more flooding unless substantially more rain falls. He said much of the water in the rivers should make its way downstream before more rain moves in.
"It’s all about timing with flood waters, anyway … sometimes the river levels have a gradual decline, sometimes a rapid decline, depending on how much water the downstream reservoirs can handle," Nolan said.
One area to watch for future flooding would be East End Road, where it runs next to the Alcovy River. Nolan said the Alcovy River usually crests (reaches its peak) 48 to 72 hours after the Yellow River, which was expected to have crested around noon Monday. East End Road has access from both Piper Road and Ga. Highway 36, so residents should be able to avoid any problems.