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Storms bring a foot of relief to Lake Lanier

Flooding inconveniences some Helen restaurants

POSTED: August 31, 2008 5:01 a.m.
TOM REED /The Times

Water fills the creek running through Wilshire Trails Park during one of the heavy thunderstorms that passed through the area Tuesday. The water runs directly into Lake Lanier at Longwood Cove.

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Lake Lanier has risen about a foot in the past two days as the remnants of Tropical Storm Fay have dumped several inches of rain across Northeast Georgia since Sunday.

The level is expected to continue to rise over the next several days as the rain that fell in the basin feeding the lake makes its way into Lanier.

"The Lake Lanier basin picked up a ton of water off of Fay," said Mike Greisinger with the National Weather Service. "We will see the level start going up in the next few days."

The level of Lake Lanier, which was 1,053.3 feet above mean sea level before Fay moved into the area, had risen to 1,054.6 feet by Tuesday evening, Greisinger said.

From Monday night to Tuesday night, the area around the lake itself had received as much as 4 inches of rain, while areas near the Chattahoochee’s headwaters got as much as 6 inches during the same 24 hours, he said.

The headwaters of the Chattahoochee in White and Habersham counties received the brunt of Fay’s lashing, getting between 10-15 inches of rain over Monday and Tuesday.

That large amount of rain made the Chattahoochee overflow its banks on Tuesday, causing several restaurants in the Bavarian town of Helen a little inconvenience but no real damage. The Chattahoochee crested at 6.01 feet at 2:30 p.m., Greisinger said. Flood stage is 6 feet and the river had receded to just below 4 feet as of 9 p.m., he said.

A spokeswoman for the Helen police said they had no reports of damage Tuesday from water. Earlier in the day when the Chattahoochee was at its highest, streets were flooded at the visitor center and the Festehall. Some mud washed up onto streets and sidewalks in the town, but there were no reports of water flooding businesses.

Water also had spilled over the pedestrian bridge across the Chattahoochee and was blocked off by police tape, but the water level had begun receding around 7 p.m.

Tuesday afternoon, restaurants located riverside in the Bavarian town were warned not to seat customers near the surging river. Cathy Caruso, assistant manager at Paul’s Steakhouse, said they were told by police Tuesday afternoon not to seat any diners on the patio or even close to the windows. Paul’s is built at street level, but has dining over the river. The patio at the Troll Tavern, which is located at river level across the street from Paul’s, was blocked off Tuesday evening due to being flooded.

Business owners seemed to take it all in stride. Catherine Cleiman, co-owner of the Helendorf
hotel, which also is riverside, said the flooding was a lot worse when Hurricane Ivan struck in 2004.



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