Water releases from Carters Lake that started Monday afternoon will be raising the level of the Oostanaula River in Rome this week, but not as much as expected.
And local officials say the break in the rain that’s been strafing the county almost since mid-February will likely help stabilize the water levels.
“The Oostanaula was at 29 1/2 feet when all this started and it was down to about 22 1/2 this morning,” said Floyd County Public Works Director Michael Skeen. “So, even with the rain we had this weekend, we won’t be at that point again.”
At least seven county roads were closed to traffic over the past two weeks or so, but public works crews have reopened all but Thomas Bluff Road and Old River Road. Skeen said even after the flooding subsides, crews will have to bring in machinery to remove the accumulated debris.
“Thomas Bluff is the first road we have to go underwater when the river backs up and the last one to clear,” he said. “Old River Road is like that too.”
Skeen said there was some flash-flooding over the weekend during separate rain events, but it drained quickly. Still, he cautioned drivers to remain alert — and to never drive around barricades.
“Even if the road looks OK, you don’t know what kind of damage has been done when it’s underwater for two weeks,” he said.
The Carters Lake water release has been carefully coordinated, according to Tim Herrington, director of the Floyd County Emergency Management Agency.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been holding back the flow, out of concern for downstream communities like Rome and Weiss Lake in Alabama, but the lake is getting full. The current dry spell comes at the right time.
“With the break we’ve got, possibly through Friday, it’s an opportunity to start filtering the water through the system,” Herrington said. “That way they’ll be able to hold more when it starts raining again.”
The USACE also is holding back water in Lake Allatoona that would normally flow down the Etowah River to Rome, “but it will be a while until they get to full pool,” Herrington said.
The National Weather Service monitors river levels with gauges placed around the county to forecast potential flooding. According to data gathered Monday:
♦ The Oostanaula River at Turner McCall Boulevard is expected to rise close to the 25-foot minor flood stage by Thursday morning but start receding sharply after that.
On Monday afternoon the level was estimated at 23.5 feet and the Heritage Park greenway behind the levee continued to flood. Low-lying areas in the park start flooding at 19 feet and the river isn’t forecast to drop below that level until possibly next week.
♦ The Etowah River at the bypass near Grizzard Park is forecast to remain below 27 feet through the week. Minor flooding at the park starts flooding when the level hits 32 feet.
♦ The Coosa River at Mayo’s Bar Lock and Dam remains well above the flood stage of 24 feet, although it had dropped about three feet between Friday and Sunday.
By Monday afternoon, however, it had risen slightly to just over 26 feet. Minor flooding was continuing in the fields upstream and downstream of the gauge behind the Trading Post and the boat ramp was under water.
The NWS has a flood warning for the Coosa in effect until further notice.
♦ Armuchee Creek at Old Dalton Road dipped over the weekend, but it rose with the rain to just under the 19-foot flood stage Monday.