Road closures keep Echols schools closed - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Road closures keep Echols schools closed

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By Robin Jedlicka - bio | email

STATENVILLE, GA (WALB) - Echols County School stood empty this morning, just as it has all week.

Wednesday, the school announced it will be closed through Friday because students simply can't get there.  Highway 94, the one main artery in Statenville, crosses the Alapaha River.  The river's rising level forced the DOT to close its bridges.

"We're not going to take the chance of putting our kids across that bridge or any other bridge until the DOT and our Emergency Management teams tells us it's safe," says Tim Ragan, Principal of Echols County School. 

The school is on the East side of the county.  Most students are on the West.  Without 94, they would have to take a fifty minute detour through Jasper, Florida.

"Normally, it takes me ten minutes to get to work," says Echols County teacher Beverly Highsmith.  "This morning, we had to drive forty-two to forty-five miles to get here because of the road being closed."

Last Thursday, Echols County got six inches of rain.  Counties to the north got heavy rain too. Now, that water is flowing through Echols.

"It was just more than the bridge could take--more than the river could handle," says Ragan.

The Mayday bridge on Howell Road has also been closed, making even local travel difficult.

"We can't believe it," says Tawanna Prince, a teacher and coach in Echols County.  "One of our young teachers said that she now understands the saying, 'Lord willing, the creek don't rise!'"

 While the students will eventually have to make up the missed days, administrators say the kids' safety is their only concern.   Echols County students were on Spring Break last week, which means they're getting two full weeks out of class.

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