Troup County officials survey scope of flood damage

Official praises how Corps responded to ‘epic event’

amccallum@ledger-enquirer.comOctober 3, 2009 

LAGRANGE, Ga. — Troup County officials got their first look at the aftermath of last week’s storms that pounded Atlanta and quickly moved massive amounts of water and debris down stream to Troup County.

“It was called the 500-year flood, an epic event,” said Dennis Knight, Troup County director of emergency management, adding the vicious Atlanta weather swiftly impacted Troup County. “Most of this water made its way south.”

During Friday’s county commission meeting, Knight and county engineer James Emery briefed officials on the storm’s local impact, which included flooding in the West Point, Ga., area.

“I can’t say enough about how the Corps managed the flow,” Emery said, referring to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “Someone in Mobile was watching like the rest of us were watching.”

He said officials increased the release of water first thing Monday morning to manage the lake levels. At its peak, the West Point Dam was releasing 54,200 cubic feet per second or — as officials calculated during the meeting — 24.4 million gallons of water per minute.

The peak flow of the Chattahoochee River was Thursday at noon, officials said, and the lake reached its peak that evening.

Aerial photos of Troup County that Emery showed Friday underscored the magnitude of the flooding.

He reviewed photos of areas in and around West Point Lake showing partially submerged trees and docks. One photo had huge trees swallowed up by water, which Emery said only looked like twigs in the photo.

Pictures also captured water creeping up toward West Point’s city hall and police station, where power was shut off last week as a precaution. Flood waters also submerged Holiday Campgrounds and county ball fields, where the outfield looked more like a small lake.

Another dramatic picture showed just how much litter has been brought downstream by the powerful waters.

“It looked like the lake was sprinkled with glitter,” Emery said, but adding the “glitter” was actually plastic bottles littering the lake.

Said Knight: “This is what we’re left with just lots and lots of debris.”

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