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Flood warnings issued for Columbus area as Hurricane Michael drenches the Valley

Hurricane Michael winds take out power in the Historic District

A large tree fell across the southbound lane of Broadway near the intersection of Seventh Street as the result of high wind gusts from Hurricane Michael. The tree downed power lines that resulted in the evacuation of one household
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A large tree fell across the southbound lane of Broadway near the intersection of Seventh Street as the result of high wind gusts from Hurricane Michael. The tree downed power lines that resulted in the evacuation of one household

As Hurricane Florence continued to lash Georgia with punishing winds and hours of nonstop rain, the National Weather Service has issued flood warnings for many counties in the Chattahoochee Valley and middle Georgia..

The counties included were Harris, Muscogee, Western Spalding, Meriwether, northwestern Marion, Fayette, Pike, northeastern Chattahoochee, western Upson, Heard, Troup, Coweta and Talbot.

The warning is in place until 2 a.m., and the weather service reports at least 3 inches of rain have already fallen.

“Turn around, don’t drown when encountering flooded roads. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles. Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize the dangers of flooding,” the National Weather Service wrote.

Ronnie Hastings of the Columbus Police Department said officials were starting to see moderate flooding.

“We’re starting to see flooding only because of the sustained rain,” he said. “It’s not because we’ve had such a torrential downpour. It’s just continuous, and it’s nonstop. I’ve been driving around and it is starting to accumulate in a lot of low-lying areas. There are some places that are turning into little 4 or 6-inch swimming pools.”

Columbus remains under a tropical storm warning and will be in a flood watch until Thursday afternoon.

Michael lashed Georgia Wednesday evening before weakening to a Category 1 storm between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. It could bring “unprecedented” wind damage, the National Weather Service said, along with tornadoes and heavy rain.

As of 11 p.m. Wednesday, Michael’s maximum sustained winds near its core had fallen to 75 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, with radar showing its location about 45 miles southwest of Macon, Ga. The center of the hurricane was past Columbus to the southeast.

Its path is expected to continue in more of a northeast direction just east of the Georgia cities of Macon and Warner Robins, eventually moving into the Carolinas, which were swamped by Hurricane Florence a few weeks ago.

Roads were flooded and many were without power Wednesday night. Check here and here for outage maps. A flash flood morning was put into effect for the valley area.

The city asks that residents call 311 or 706-653-4000 to report downed trees and limbs, as well as any street flooding problems.

The NOAA Hurricane Hunter WP-3D Orion takes a bumpy ride through HurricaneMichael before the storm makes landfall on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018.

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