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May flooding teaches lessons to Hall County

Officials make plans to better handle next time

POSTED: June 9, 2013 11:39 p.m.

Hall County officials said they learned some lessons from the heavy storms and flooding that overwhelmed parts of the county last month.

County Administrator Randy Knighton and other employees reviewed their response to the May 19 storm and came up with some ideas to put into place for next time.

“We thought everything worked very well, given the event; however, whenever we’ve got an experience like this we want to learn from it,” Knighton said.

The intense storm caused flooding in houses and businesses, road collapses and ruptured water mains.

South Hall and the city of Flowery Branch bore the brunt of the damage. Richard Mecum, Hall County Board of Commissioners chairman, issued a local emergency declaration.

Participants in the May 30 debriefing included Knighton, Kevin McInturff, county engineer; Ken Rearden, director of public works and utilities; and Jimmy Hightower, road maintenance supervisor.

What worked well included the county Fire Marshal’s Office staff going door-to-door on Cove Creek Drive to help residents trapped by a washed-out road, quick repair of some roads and communication with residents and the cities affected.

The Hall County Sheriff’s Office also helped direct traffic and assess damage.

The meeting also identified some areas to improve, including having a designated media area on site and stockpiling pipe for future events.

“We kind of decided let’s go ahead and get the strongest strength possible, Public Information Officer Katie Crumley said. “That way it will cover any situation and we’re going to get it in all these different lengths.”

Officials went over the response chronologically, reviewing the entire timeline of the response.

“Anytime something like that happens, I like to start from the beginning,” Assistant County Administrator Marty Nix said. “It just gives us a foundation.”

Nix also said the opening of Ga. 13 late Sunday night also helped with the response. Traffic would have been a mess otherwise.

“For the most part, our traffic plan worked very well,” Nix said. “It wasn’t great, but at least we had deputies and officers at key locations keeping the traffic moving.”

Feedback from the cities has also been positive, said Knighton.

“I specifically asked that question of Bill (Andrew, Flowery Branch city manager) I said, ‘Bill, is there anything that we could have have done different?’ ‘No, I think everything was done as expected,’” Nix said.

Knighton said the county is better prepared to handle these situations now than before.


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