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Weather experts say the heaviest rain may be over
A Gainesville police officer directs traffic down a side street Monday morning after a fallen tree forced the closure of Green Street. The road was closed for hours as crews removed the debris. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Roads are washed out. Fallen trees have tangled up traffic and electricity has been touch and go.

But here’s the good news: The worst may be over and the lake is rising.

The National Weather Service says the rains that have incessantly fallen over much of North Georgia for the past week will gradually subside this week.

As of 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, 5.99 inches of rain had been recorded at Gainesville’s Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport since Saturday. Half of that amount fell on Sunday and Monday, according to weather service meteorologist Mike Leary.

Though Monday’s weather did not bring the fatal consequences to Hall County that it did in surrounding counties, rain was the culprit for several wrecks, flooded streets, downed power lines and the hourslong closure of one of Gainesville’s main traffic arteries.

It also caused Lake Lanier’s water level to rise almost 3 feet since Sunday morning.

A portion of Green Street was closed from 8 a.m. until after 2 p.m. while crews worked to remove two trees — one that had fallen across the street — near the Norton Agency, a historic building located nearly a block north of the U.S. Post Office.

Police directed traffic down side streets while workers from the Georgia Department of Transportation and Georgia Power cleaned up the mess, but Gainesville Fire Chief Jon Canada said the city had no other major problems to speak of other than a few downed trees and power lines and some standing water on roads.

"Green Street was enough," he said.

Rising waters washed out at least one road in Hall County. The recently repaired Brown Street crumbled Monday as rains washed out its embankment. The road is one of two entrances into the Morningside Heights area and is closed until further notice, Hall County officials said Monday.

Trees felled by Sunday and Monday’s storms also caused power outages for thousands of Georgia Power, Jackson EMC and Sawnee EMC customers in Hall County.

"We’ve been pretty much restoring power for several days now," said John Kraft, a spokesman for Georgia Power.

In the largest reported outage in the county, approximately 2,100 Jackson EMC customers in Chestnut Mountain were without power Monday evening after a tree fell on a line near Strickland Road, said Bonnie Jones, director of communications for the utility.

Earlier in the day, downed lines near Lakeshore Drive and Chicopee left hundreds of residents without power for hours, Kraft said.

But counties surrounding Hall were hit harder by the storms. The rains were blamed for the deaths of six people across the region, including five in the Atlanta area. A number of roads were closed in Gwinnett, Forsyth and Dawson counties. Gwinnett and Forsyth County schools are shuttered today.

"We have a mess," said Teri Pope, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Stephens and Gwinnett counties particularly have been hit hard, Pope said. Some Stephens County residents were without water Sunday and Monday as Toccoa utility officials dealt with water lines that were broken as the rain washed out roads in the area, and those who did have water were advised to boil it before drinking it, Toccoa’s utility director Don Dye said.

"Those are areas that have gotten exponential amounts of rain over the last 24 to 48 hours," Pope said. "We’re having standing water problems throughout North Georgia."

But the problems should ease off throughout the week, Leary said. Today, the area’s chance of rain has dropped to 50 percent. Rain chances between Wednesday and Sunday will hover around 30 and 40 percent, Leary said.

"So (Monday) is the last day of the torrential rain," Leary said.

Staff writers Melissa Weinman, Jeff Gill, Brandee A. Thomas and the Associated Press contributed to this story.