According to the National Weather Service, a flood warning for the Conasauga River was put into effect Tuesday and lasted through Thursday, and the Oostanaula River rose 12-feet since Sunday. The rapid rise of local rivers only caused some minor flooding of the Conasauga near the Tilton area, but this series of events raises an inevitable question:
What do Gordon Countians do during a flood?
According to Gordon County Emergency Management Agency Director Richard Cooper, they evacuate in most cases.
“Luckily flooding is not like a tornado; you’ve got a little bit of time,” he said. “We can plan to get people out, and people can plan to get themselves out.”
Cooper said the county looks to the National Weather Service’s website, water.weather.gov, to decide if the county needs to be evacuated and alerts residents using the CodeRED Alert System.
With the weather alert service, the county is able to keep residents up-to-date with severe weather warnings issued by the National Weather Service and at no charge to residents.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), flooding begins when rivers overflow their banks and water begins to flood surrounding areas. According to FEMA’s site, ready.gov, flooding can also occur when rainfall or snowmelt exceeds the capacity of underground pipes, or the capacity of streets and drains designed to carry flood water away from urban areas.
If no evacuation has been ordered, but conditions are severe, Cooper advises staying indoors and keeping a radio close by to listen for updates.
“Be sure to be ready in case you have to evacuate,” he added.
Those driving in these extreme conditions should also avoid roads with standing or moving water.
“Just because the car ahead of you made it through alright, doesn’t mean you will,” Cooper said.
Roads in this type of condition may collapse or contain harmful objects, he explained.
Cooper said because the county is situated in a valley, and has three shallow rivers running through it, it makes the land almost ideal for flooding.
“With the rivers and all these creeks, we are at a higher risk compared to the other counties (surrounding Gordon),” he said.
He put the county at a moderate risk level for flooding, but said there have been preventative improvements made.
“We have ditches and culverts (tunnels carrying streams of water or open drains under a road or railroad) that help prevent flooding now,” Cooper explained. “Years ago, Gordon County flooded a great deal. Water would collect where people would farm all the time.”
Most business in the county also has retaining ponds, where water can run off to, to also help prevent flooding, he added.
For more information about flood readiness visit www.ready.gov/floods or water.weather.gov to keep up to date with severe water conditions in Gordon County.