First responders prepare for next flood - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

First responders prepare for next flood

August 17, 2004

Crisp County-- The floods of 1994 and 1998 caused immense destruction in our area. Emergency personnel have not forgotten, and are readying themselves in case it happens again.

Lake Blackshear is calm, but that can change in an instant. "Water is a real powerful thing, it goes where it wants to go, and you have to prepare for that and that is what we are doing today," Marcus Waters of Crisp County Power.

Emergency officials from Southwest Georgia studied the Lake Blackshear dam in Warwick; a dam that could do some damage if it broke. "Being located immediately down stream from the power dam in Crisp County, of course Lee County borders on one side and Worth on the other, but we are the very first ones to get any water from the dam," said Waters.

Lee County is very fortunate, though-- if the dam broke, only a handful of people would be directly affected. "From here to Albany is a lot of forest, a lot of plantations there, it is not much population," said Lee EMA Director Joe Pollock.

But, during the 1994 flood, there was a breach in the earthen part of the dam. "If you look at the water level today, you can add about 12 feet to that," Waters said.

The Lake Blackshear dam was rebuilt stronger than ever, with a concrete cap that acts as an emergency spillway if water rises too high. And if the dam ever does break, these first responders are prepared.

"The distance between here and Dougherty County is a good eight hours of travel time," said Albany-Dougherty EMA Director Jim Vaught. "So we would have plenty of opportunity to know the water was coming our way and do reaction with our dam to be able to let some water on through."

A force of nature that South Georgia emergency officials are learning to handle. Crisp County Power, which runs the Lake Blackshear Dam, is required by the federal government to test the emergency action plan every five years.

posted at 4:40PM by dave.miller@walb.com