HELEN, Ga. - They were watching the sky and the river in Helen after a day of clean up after torrential downpours in the last few days. Residents are hoping Mother Nature will give them a break from the rain for a little while.
The swollen Chattahoochee River is the most obvious result of 14 inches of rain in the last five days in the Helen area. All that water also caused big problems at businesses like Alpine Mini Golf where the owner and crews spent Friday cleaning up a muddy mess from the rain, hoping the worst is behind them.
“We can stand some rain but not a torrential rain not like yesterday no right exactly,” said owner Charlie Knowles.
It was a heavy downpour not seen in recent years. The White County Emergency Management Agency said usually the area gets nearly 30 inches of rain to this time of the year. It’s now at nearly 55 inches of rain so far.
“We’ve had some damage to some businesses and some residences have had flooding. We’ve had no body injured and we’ve had no fatalities,” said David Murphy, the director of the White County Emergency Management Agency.
Some of the damage occurred at the recently opened Hardman Farms Heritage trail which was hit hard by heavy over flow from the Chattahoochee River.
Karen Ramey showed FOX 5 News the damaged road she and her husband Fletcher live on. The two mile or so long Carolina Springs Road is now a wavy pattern of broken asphalt and painted lines, no longer useable because of all the rain, it’s been closed by the county.
“We can get in and out but we’re at the beginning of the road. And other people have to come in on another side road that comes in,” said Karen Ramey.
The main roads into the Alpine town of Helen are all open again. Riverside businesses like Cafe International which had closed earlier because of heavy downpours are now open again.
“Thankfully our roof is over our head but some of the other places aren’t so lucky you know,” said Shari Snapp, owner of Cafe International.
Heavy rain fell overnight in north Georgia, which was the last thing the area needed. White County's Helen has been hit especially hard, facing repeated storms for days now.
Friday morning, the Chattahoochee River was still running very high in Helen, pushing with a force not usually seen after deluge swelled the banks of the river Thursday afternoon.
Anthony Chambers was part of an impromptu cleanup crew clearing mud from a restaurant parking lot where a small slide and back up from the river created the mess.
“We got about an hour’s worth of rain, about four or five inches in an hour and the river was already full, it can’t go nowhere but up,” said Chambers.
Across the street at the Troll Tavern, the water was pushing itself to the edge of the business which had to close temporarily after a downpour.
“We had a torrential downpour earlier and it just shut us down for an hour and a half after that the rain got up on our sidewalk here,” said Eddie Brown, the manager at the tavern.
Along the Hooch, trails are closed to the public for safety’s sake. White County Emergency Services told FOX 5 News some back roads were closed due to high water and mud.
Traffic on the main route into town had to be diverted because of the flooded road.
“I just come on about six o’clock, come into this problem here. I was told we had about six inches of rain,” said Captain Phillip Wood, with the Helen Police Department.
It was rain which inundated the river and creeks, flooding the local miniature golf course and leaving the Hardman Heritage trail badly damaged.
It also put a damper on the Helen to the Atlantic Hot Air Balloon Race, grounding the balloonist for the evening. Many are now wondering about Friday after the rains which swelled the Hooch.
“It’s been a while since I’ve seen it up like this I’ve seen it even worse than this where the fields were flooded but this is up there though,” said Balloonist David Bristol.
Most of Thursday evening was spent under a Flash Flood Warning and Flash Flood Emergency. A Flash Flood Emergency indicates a severe flooding situation. It is rarely used and is activated only to stress a dire flash flood situation. It was in effect for about three hours early Thursday starting around 4 p.m.
Law enforcement reported several flash flood incidents across the county with several roadways under water. Most of the roadways are in the southeastern and central portion of the county from Cleveland to Helen. A number of roads are blocked by flooding, but the exact number was not immediately available. There are also a handful of reports of water breaching homes in the area. Officials advise to not cross flooded roadways and to seek higher ground.
No injuries have been reported.
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