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Rain fell, but area storms werent as strong as feared
Hall not hit as hard as other North Georgia counties
Two people wait for a Red Rabbit bus along Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville during the heavy rainstorm that passed through the area Wednesday afternoon. - photo by Tom Reed

For the third week in a row, Hall County dodged a weather-related bullet.

In previous weeks, snow and ice were the culprits. On Wednesday, it was fierce storms and possible tornadoes.

Twisters struck parts of Northwest Georgia, causing widespread damage, and flooding occurred in parts of the North Georgia mountains, including Towns County, where 6 inches of rain fell.

Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency in Bartow and Gordon counties, areas that were hardest hit during a suspected tornado, The Associated Press reported.

By contrast, as of 11 p.m. Wednesday night, 2.26 inches of rain had fallen at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport in Gainesville.

At one point, rain was heavy and created some localized flooding, such as at a mobile home park on McConnell Drive. Flat Creek, which runs through Gainesville and empties into Lake Lanier in West Hall, was rising along its banks.

Also, crews cleaned out storm drains in Gainesville.

But otherwise, area authorities reported few troubles on the roads or elsewhere.

A tornado watch stayed in effect for most of North Georgia through much of the day and, at one point, a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for much of Northeast Georgia, including Hall.

Weather concerns prompted cancellations and schedule changes throughout the area.

The Hall County school system announced that all afternoon and evening practices and activities were canceled.

Gainesville city schools already had planned to release students early for a parade and reception honoring Gainesville High School’s football team, which won the Class AAAAA championship in December.\

But then, it ended up postponing the celebrations. The system now plans to reschedule the events, Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said.

Area responders with The Salvation Army and Gainesville-based American Red Cross of Northeast Georgia were poised to respond as needed to emergencies in North Georgia.

At one point, Joni Smith, executive director of the Red Cross chapter, said that Towns County was having such severe flooding that students were basically stranded at schools.

“Buses (were) taking the students back to school and (students) will be sheltering in place until roads are safe to travel,” Smith said.

The weather is expected to turn chilly today, with sunny skies and a high near 46, according to the National Weather Service.

The rain likely will benefit Lake Lanier, which stood at 1,062.82 feet above sea level at 10:15 p.m. Wednesday. Winter full pool is 1,070 feet.