GA floods widespread

People in Georgia need help coping with flood damage resulting from back-to-back tropical storms in one week, responders said.

BY SUSAN KIM | SYLVESTER, Ga. | July 13, 2005

People in Georgia need help coping with flood damage resulting from back-to-back tropical storms in less than a week, responders said.

With little national publicity, the state is quietly tallying flood damage to homes, crops and businesses.

And flooding will increase, at least some officials predicted. The Flint River in Albany and the Kinchafoonee Creek, in Lee County, were already above flood stage Wednesday and still rising. The major concern is the Flint River, which is expected to crest early Saturday morning at 30.5 feet, 10.5 feet above the flood stage.

Tropical Storm Cindy’s remnants swept through Georgia July 6, and damages topped $100 million. This week, the remnants of Hurricane Dennis caused at least $10 million in damages to insured homes, vehicles and businesses - and reports from the state insurance commissioner indicated that number would rise.

This doesn’t even include damage that hit uninsured or underinsured communities, said faith-based responders offering relief in Georgia. Small, low-income communities were hit hard, said Bob Tribble, president of Georgia’s Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.

The town of Sylvester - just east of Albany - was inundated with flood water, Tribble said. “In Sylvester, we are looking at a whole community of low-income families whose houses were flooded,” he said. “Sylvester is along a river basin and this area was also hit by a huge flood in the 1990s. Now once again there is a lot of localized flooding. These folks are really going to need some help.”

Tribble - working with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency - is helping to start a new long-term recovery committee in Sylvester.

Faith-based groups were arriving on the scene to help, said Tribble, including teams from the Georgia Baptist Association, Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR), and many others.

Tribble is also an LDR coordinator for the region.

In addition to residential damage, agricultural losses appear serious as well. Some farms in north Georgia remained underwater Tuesday and significant damage has been caused to the state's peanut and tobacco crops. Damage to Georgia's crops could be well above $20 million, according to the state agriculture commissioner. While corn and cotton crops escaped major damage, both watermelon and cantaloupe crops were seriously hurt.

The state has seen more than a foot of rain in some areas, more than twice the rainfall typically seen the entire month of July.

For south Georgia, the new damage comes on top of a health hazard that was already invading the flood-damaged homes of low-income families - black mold that started growing in the wake of last year's Hurricane Jeanne.

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