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Midstate on lookout for falling trees, continued flooding

As roads and yards drained today across Middle Georgia, Thursday's rain left people on the lookout for falling trees and continued flooding.

Winds gusting up to 30 mph today were expected to uproot trees from soggy ground, but few problems had been reported around Macon today. A crew cleaned up a fallen tree on Overlook Avenue near Ridge Avenue this morning.

The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory today until 4 p.m. for northern and most of Middle Georgia generally north of a line from Harris to Houston to Treutlen counties.

According to a 6 a.m. flood warning, the Ocmulgee, Oconee and Flint rivers are flooding which affects the counties of Bibb, Houston, Jones, Monroe, Twiggs, Telfair, Montgomery, Wheeler, Taylor, Upson, Bleckley, Baldwin, Washington, Wilkinson, Laurens, Johnson and Pulaski counties.

Although the Ocmulgee was orginally forecast to crest Thursday in Macon, the latest warning shows the river will peak sometime this morning and fall below flood stage sometime Sunday.

The latest graph from the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service shows the river is on the way down from 22.19 feet but the water level could fluctuate.

Much of the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail is under water. Sunday the river hit a crest of 23.62 inches after Saturday's heavy rain.

Following days of downpours, heavy rain soaked Middle Georgia all day Thursday, flooding neighborhoods, canceling school today in some counties and causing rivers and creeks to spill out of their banks.

Rain fell steadily throughout the day, piling up rain-gauge totals. From midnight Wednesday through 6 p.m. Thursday, the Middle Georgia Regional Airport recorded 2.67 inches. And from midnight through 5 p.m., 2.18 inches fell at Robins Air Force Base, according to the National Weather Service.

From March 26 through 6 p.m. Thursday, Macon has been hammered with approximately 8.13 inches of rain, wiping out the yearly rainfall deficit, officials said. More rain was expected into the night Thursday.

Multiple roads are closed today in Monroe County after a second bout of heavy rain Thursday, according to a news release from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office.

Repairs will begin today on Juliette Road which is closed about five miles east of Forsyth.

Crews are waiting for a pipe to be ordered to fix the road which washed out during Thursday's deluge. In the meantime motorists are asked to use Old Juliette Road for several days.

Joe Chambers, Abernathy, Zellner and Tharpe roads are also closed due to various problems caused by flooding that began last weekend.

With some roads — especially dirt roads — damaged or out of commission because of torrential rains, some midstate school systems pulled the plug on classes.

School systems in Jones, Monroe and Twiggs counties closed early Thursday, and today a handful of schools have canceled classes.

Jones and Monroe students are not in session today, but staff should report at 9 a.m. In Dooly County, students are off, but teachers should report to work at the normal time. In Twiggs and Pulaski counties, students are not in class, although faculty and staff should report at 8:30 a.m. In Dodge County, students and faculty are not at school today.

As the rain continued Thursday, problems mounted throughout the day in several midstate counties.

Bibb County sheriff’s Lt. George Meadows said deputies worked several fender-benders that were the result of cars hydroplaning.

In Monroe County, Emergency Management Agency Director Matthew Perry said deputies and county road employees monitored roads that were damaged in last weekend’s flooding. Many of the washed-out roads remained closed Thursday, Perry said. Several roads also were closed in Twiggs and Jones counties.

Georgia Power was working Thursday to deal with the heavy rain.

Six spillway gates were opened on Lake Sinclair to make room for additional rainwater, said Konswello Monroe, a Georgia Power spokeswoman.

Greg Brown, plant manager for Central Georgia Hydro Group, which manages the dam, said the gates are opened to remove water once the lake reaches a full level.

The lake has a total 24 spillway gates, and the most ever opened was 14 in 1998, said Jeff Wilson, a Georgia Power spokesman.

Monroe County officials said Thursday that water also was flowing out of Jackson Lake to keep the lake from overflowing. The water feeds into the Ocmulgee River, they said.

Telegraph staff writers Becky Purser, Ashley Tusan Joyner, Linda S. Morris and Gene Rector contributed to this report.

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