Dam breach forces Spalding County residents to evacuate

Residents in Spalding County have been forced from their homes after a dam holding back a reservoir threatens to breach and fail.

The Heads Creek Reservoir Dam is located northwest of Griffin.

The city of Griffin says the dam breach was caused by roughly seven inches of rain in this area over the weekend.

The water that is now flowing free has caused rivers and creeks downstream to swell.

The National Weather Service calls this a "particularly dangerous situation" after heavy rain caused the Heads Creek Reservoir Dam in Spalding County to breach sending water spewing downstream.

The reservoir is in Nicole Beltran's backyard.

"It was scary hearing about all the road closures and of course what may happen with the dam failure.  My husband was standing on our back porch and you could see the water rushing down.  We heard from multiple people how their yards are flooded the roads are closed," said Beltran. 

"A good little river going up through there and driveways along that side were all blocked up, and they was afraid if it did break all this would get flooded worse and the homes down there would be flooded," said William Crowder who lives nearby.

"I've never seen that creek get that high. Super high," said Aaron Cramer, who evacuated his home.

Meteorologists issued a Flash Flood Emergency for the area. Sheriff's deputies went door-to-door Monday morning asking about 40 families, including the Cramers, to leave just in case flooding got out of hand.

"They were telling us we should evacuate it. So, that's why I was pretty scared because I was like, it's getting really high," said Cramer.

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Emergency crews respond after the Heads Creek Reservoir Dam in Spalding County is breached on March 27, 2023. (FOX 5)

The dam was months into a renovation when the weekend severe storms dumped seven inches of rain in the area.

"The water rushing around is not supposed to be happening. So, that's where the dam has washed out," said Brandon Lewis, director of Griffin Water and Wastewater.

Once notified about the breach, the city activated its emergency plan, which included evacuations and road closures. The city says the relentless rain over the weekend caused the temporary dam to break apart.

"This is not as serious as it would have been if we're talking about the elevation of the permanent dam," said Lewis.

When Timothy Collins was told to evacuate, he didn't hesitate.

"Cops knocking on my door, and they said there was an issue with the dam, and they wanted to evacuate everybody, so I loaded up the girls.  Mother nature is no kind of joke, it's the real deal," said Timothy Collins.

After some consideration, Cramer says his family along with some of his friends' have chosen to leave for the time being.

"If you've seen the dam and the water that's in there, it can be really dangerous," said Lewis.

The evacuation order was lifted Monday afternoon, but the bridges along Moon Road, South New Salem, and West Ellis near Highway 16 will remain closed until further notice.