North Georgia cleans up from floods

Emergency crews were on the ground Friday afternoon in Gilmer County assessing damage to homes affected by Thursday’s floods. No monetary value had been put on the destruction by late Friday.

Heavy rains late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning dumped as much as five inches of rain in areas of north Georgia, causing the Coosawattee River, Clear and Turkey creeks to overflow their banks.

No one was injured, but about 40 homes, almost all of them in eastern Gilmer County, suffered varying degrees of damage. Rushing waters stranded people, knocked down trees and power lines, washed out some bridges and even pushed one home off its foundation.

At the peak of the storm, roughly 2,300 homes and businesses were without power Thursday in Gilmer, Pickens and Lumpkin counties. Electricity had been restored to most homes by Thursday evening, power officials said.

“The Georgia State Patrol provided a helicopter to do damage assessment, and four teams of two people are going into the community and walking along the creeks,” Georgia Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Crystal Paulk-Buchanan told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Paulk-Buchanan said only one home was damaged in Pickens County.

Where the damage was done, neighbors pitched in to help residents affected by the floods with clean-up.

Well water used by some residents for drinking and washing may have been contaminated by the floods. A water advisory was issued around 3 p.m. Friday for fewer than 200 Gilmer County residents living near Clear Creek and Turkey Creek who use well water, Paulk-Buchanan said.

“If they think their well water may have been contaminated, they should switch to bottled water until the well is tested,” Paulk-Buchanan said.

Residents who suspect their well was contaminated should only drink and cook with bottled water and call Gilmer County Emergency Management at 706-276-7246.

GEMA and Gilmer County officials are asking for donations of cleaning supplies, including bleach, buckets, mops, disposable gloves and trash bags; building supplies like two-by-fours, tarps, drywall, and sheetrock; and personal hygiene items such as baby wipes, small first-aid kits and mosquito repellent.

To offer help call 706-276-7246 or send donations to 1162 Progress Road, Ellijay, GA 30540.