Flood evacuations begin in Newton - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Flood evacuations begin in Newton

NEWTON, GA (WALB) -

Evacuations began for residents and some office buildings in Newton Wednesday, as Flint River levels rose across the area.

The old courthouse was evacuated and officials said they were moving documents to higher levels of the building.

Meanwhile, Sunset Boulevard was shut off to public access. Water Street was expected to be shut down Wednesday as well.

The Flint River is expected to top 35 feet in Newton early next week. Normally flowing at 10 feet or less, the Flint River in Newton is now out of its banks at around 30 feet, and approaching homes and historic landmarks.

Crews have been out all day, putting sandbags around the old Baker County courthouse and taking out historical items that could be damaged in the flood.

This isn't the first time the old courthouse has been threatened. In 1994 the Flint River reached 42 feet, covering much of the first floor in the building.

Three homes in Newton have already been evacuated. This one here has water all the way in its backyard creeping up to the house. The water is at 29 feet but it is not expected to crest until Monday at 35.

The owner of one house built a wall around his house after the flood in 1998, he is planning to use a tractor pump to get flood water away from his yard. Others don't have a wall, but are moving out what belongings they can, before it's too late.

City officials could not be happier with how their community has taken this flooding threat. "It has been excellent. We have had people calling wanting to know what they can do. Our volunteer fire department is here. Our county commissioners are helping move people, even the mayor has been out along with city police," said EMA Director Sherry Bailey.

Other residents have a message for those who haven't taken the flooding threat seriously. "If they haven't moved out they better be moving, it's coming on up," said Kenneth Deese, Rocky Bend Campground owner.

The County has put a dusk til dawn curfew in effect for the affected flood areas in Newton until the water goes down.

The Baker County Health Department said they were giving free tetanus shots to anyone affected by flooding.

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