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Gray skies, rains return to region

Nearly 2 inches recorded Wednesday; more on way

POSTED: August 8, 2013 12:15 a.m.

So much for a few dry days. Heavy rains hit Northeast Georgia on Wednesday, with 1.88 inches recorded at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport in Gainesville.

Forsyth County officials said a fatal wreck was related to the weather conditions, and rain forced road closings in Forsyth and Dawson counties. The Etowah River in Dawson County and Settingdown Creek in Forsyth County were both above flood stage.

The National Weather issued a flash flood watch, which remains in effect for the region through this morning.

A total of 1.86 inches of rain was recorded between about 4 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport by the NWS automated recording station.

Two traffic signals were out Wednesday morning in Hall County due to a power outage, but were back on within an hour, according to Teri Pope, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation. DOT crews worked to clean out drains to facilitate water runoff.

The chance of storms drops to 50 percent today, with a diminished chance of pop-up storms heading into the weekend.

The first few days of August have been relatively dry after a cool, wet July that brought rain on 22 of 31 days and recorded rainfall totals more than 10 inches above the norm.

One death in Forsyth County was attributed to the storms.

A 43-year-old South Forsyth woman was killed and four other people, including three children, were injured in a two-vehicle collision as thunderstorms soaked the area, authorities said.

Two of the four taken to area hospitals were in critical condition, according to Doug Rainwater with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office identified the woman as Tracy Bieler. Her 11-year-old daughter, who was the front- seat passenger, remained in critical condition Wednesday night at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite.

The wreck, which authorities described as “weather related,” happened about 11 a.m. on Old Atlanta Road near Sharon Road.

Bieler was driving a 2002 Toyota Camry south, away from the Sharon crossing, when she lost control of the vehicle and crossed into oncoming traffic, Rainwater said.

The car was struck by a 2012 Honda Odyssey being driven by Mujtaba Syed, 40, of Cumming, Rainwater said.

“There’s no doubt weather was a factor,” he said, referring to the heavy rain at the time.

Syed and his 7-year-old son suffered what authorities described as injuries that were not life-threatening, as did an 11-year-old friend of Bieler’s daughter, who had been riding in the back seat of the Camry.

No charges have been filed, and the investigation remains ongoing, Rainwater said.

Rainfall of up to 8 inches was measured in some areas of North Forsyth, according to the weather service.

The agency also reported flood water levels along Settingdown Creek.

Forsyth County Fire Division Chief Jason Shivers said a home on Settingdown Road was evacuated due to the rising water.

The house was “at or near being flooded,” he said, and the Red Cross was notified to assist the family.

Settingdown Road was also closed at the Hamptons subdivision.

According to the sheriff’s office, other local road closures included Westbrook Road at Porter Lane; Grindle Lane; Burruss Mill Road at Burma Road; and Cantrell Road near Jot Em Down Road.

The 5400 block of Cantrell Road could be closed for two weeks.

Little Mill Road south of Keith Bridge Road was also shut down for a short period.

In addition, a tree fell on Castleberry Road near the Wade Valley subdivision, blocking traffic, as did a tree on Majors Road between Castleberry and Ga. 9.

According to the county government website, the following roads are also closed: Cantrell, Nicholson and Old Federal, as well as Dunroven Way.

The Big Creek Greenway, a popular walking and biking trail in south Forsyth, also is closed.

Dawson County also had to deal with a number of roads that had to be closed because of flooding caused by the rainfall.

Storms that dropped as much as 10 inches of rain in some parts of southern Dawson County forced the closings of some roads, but all were back open by late afternoon.

Harry Sosebee Road, between Lumpkin Campground and Black’s Mill roads, Joe Chester, Holcomb and Little Mountain roads, Pine Bridge Drive, Thompson Road at Ga. 53 and Cowart Road experienced flooding.

A portion of Roscoe Collette Road in Cherokee County near the Dawson County line remains closed. The Dawson County side is open to residents, but not to through traffic, Dawson County Manager Cindy Campbell said.

Flooding also occurred along the Etowah River at River Park on Ga. 9 South. Both the canoe put-in parking lot and adjacent dog-walking facility were closed.

Dawson County Chief of Emergency Services Lanier Swafford said the river’s flood stage is at 13 feet.

By 4 p.m., the water had been recorded at 15.41 feet, according to the weather service.

“Across the county, the rain gauges ranged from 6 inches in some areas to as much as 10 inches,” Swafford said. “We’ll continue to monitor and hope the next batch that comes in doesn’t cause any more damage.”


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