Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rain and Flooding

A year ago the Atlanta area was dealing with a drought. Experts were predicting that our main reservoir (Lake Lanier) would hit record lows and that we would run out of drinking water by January. Today Lake Lanier hit record highs and the river it feeds in to has risen well above flood stage. For years we got little to no rain, and that led to one of the worst droughts ever seen in the southeastern United States. This past week we have had nonstop rain, saturating the ground. The rain reached a climax Sunday night and Monday. Heavy downpours and thunderstorms rolled through the area for nearly 2 days, and yesterday most of the area saw over 8 inches of rain in a 24-hour period (some areas saw over 12 inches). That much rain on saturated ground led to flooding, and lots of it. Hundreds of roads were closed due to rising waters in creeks and rivers. The downtown connector, I-75/85, which runs through Atlanta, was shut down for hours due to flooding. I-575 near our house was also shut down and did not reopen until this morning. I-285 (the loop around Atlanta) is currently closed over the Chatahoochee River due to flooding.

I ventured out yesterday afternoon to run an errand and could not believe what I saw. Water where it isn't supposed to be. Roads closed, creeks nearly swamping their bridges, and traffic of nightmare proportions. My wife's commute home yesterday evening took 3 hours. Most of that time was spent trying to find a passable road in to our town. With I-575 closed, there were only 5 roads leading in to town. And four of them were closed. The good news is that our house is fine. Despite all the rain we never saw floodwaters get anywhere near our house. At last report one of the closed roads was opened, and I-575 has opened. And thankfully the rain has stopped. But the waters are still very high, many creeks well above flood stage. If we get any more rain I think things will get worse very quickly.

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