AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – As storm system Elsa moves toward landfall, southern-lying counties in the CSRA are preparing for the worst.
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For Jefferson and Jenkins Counties, the worst translates to flooding.
According to Jefferson County Emergency Services Director Jim Anderson, the county’s Public Works Department staff is on stand-by until the storm passes, with equipment ready for tree removals and other road-related emergency situations.
Even further South, the Ogeechee River, which continues from Jefferson County into Jenkins County, poses its own risk of flooding.
Jenkins County EMA director Alvin Burke tells WJBF that crews have been out throughout the day using backhoes to clear beaver dams near potentially problematic roadways that might flood with a foot or more of water if the natural flow of natural bodies of water are blocked.
For Jenkins County, says Burke, preparing for a major storm has been a project more than a year in the making. Following heavy, continuous rains in February 2020, rains that saw flooding that cut off access to people’s homes in neighboring Burke County as the Savannah surpassed its riverbanks. Emergency management and county officials in Jenkins County saw the only way to avert road closures and severe infrastructure damage was to invest in major improvements and planning for the county’s roadway and drainage system.
Even before the flooding had subsided, says Burke, the county had put together a list of areas to work on to ease flooding that threaten to shut down entire parts of the county, cutting off access to homes, workplaces and creating dangerous conditions as water backed up over roadways.
Throughout the year, work crews have been engaged in “re-ditching” by adding at least an extra foot of clearance of county drain ditches, especially along paved roads.
Loads of new drainage pipes have been added, as well, says Burke.
With mitigation as the goal they’ve been preparing for for over a year and continuous contact kept with the National Weather Service in Charleston over the last few days, Burke says, he hopes the county will be prepare when the rains and high winds come.