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Gainesville homeless camp floods again
High waters push back plans to clean up area from previous flooding
Vickie Barber surveys the flooded area underneath the Queen City Bridge on Thursday morning after heavy rains filled the homeless encampment with water again.

Volunteer needed at flooded homeless camp

If interested in helping clean up the homeless camp beneath the Queen City Bridge in Gainesville, contact Jerry Deyton, pastor of The Way ministry at 678-776-3098 or

Related story: Laws that target panhandling put homeless in a bind

Plans to clean up the homeless camp beneath the Queen City Bridge in Gainesville were canceled Thursday morning after torrential rains the night before once again flooded the site.

The deluge came just days after an estimated 80,000 gallons of standing water was pumped out. There is, perhaps, twice as much water now, a foot high in some parts.

“It’s a problem regardless if we down here or not,” Hines, a 60-year-old longtime resident of the camp, said.

The rains sent those living here up a hillside after dark in a mad dash for dry land as tents, sleeping bags and personal belongings washed out.

Vickie Barber stared in disbelief at the devastation, asking for help resupplying the basics such as canned food, water, clothes and shoes.

Barber’s bicycle was still upright in the water the next morning, but the thought of retrieving it filled her with dread.

“Someone told me not to go in, I might catch pneumonia or something,” she said.

But volunteers said they are committed to fixing the problem for good, even if city, county and state officials continue to be unresponsive to the potential public health threat.

“We’ll get it done,” Jerry Deyton, pastor of The Way ministry, said. “There’s some real good people in Gainesville.”  

The homeless camp lies in a natural drainage course along railroad tracks.

However, the water typically flows through a drain adjacent to a poultry plant and then down into a ditch.

But clogs in these stormwater pipes have backed things up.

A man was seen digging a trench at the camp Thursday as a way to redirect the floodwater, but his efforts were met with little progress.  

Barber said she has not seen any public officials visit the camp since the flooding began a few weeks ago.  

Inquiries from The Times to Gainesville, Hall County and DOT officials were unanswered Thursday morning.

Deyton said he is looking into how to clear the pipes himself before moving on to cleaning up the camp’s debris: waterlogged couches and mattresses, litter, muddied clothes.

“We’re going to see it through,” he added.

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