Weekend storms may force a county office out of the Bibb County Courthouse and have hurt the structures of two Macon churches.
Also, a mail carrier reported that she was struck by lightning Saturday afternoon, and a strike also damaged First Baptist Church of Christ on High Street.
A substitute rural mail carrier reported that she was struck by lightning about 4:40 p.m. Saturday while delivering mail on Rocky Creek Road, said Nancy Ross, a U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman.
Clearisse Jackson was placing mail into a mailbox when lightning reportedly struck her. She drove herself to the post office on Rocky Creek Road, notified a supervisor and asked for medical attention, Ross said.
Paramedics couldn’t find anything wrong with Jackson. She was taken to a hospital and later released, Ross said.
At First Baptist Church, lightning from Saturday’s storm hit the roof near the church spire, knocking out air conditioning, the phone system, the audio system and more, said the Rev. Bob Setzer.
The Macon-Bibb County Fire Department checked the church after Sunday services, finding no smoldering timbers, Setzer said. It could take thousands of dollars for repairs, he said.
At the courthouse, Bibb County Probate Court Judge Bill Self said he doesn’t want to reopen the basement office that issues marriage and gun licenses. The office flooded for the third time in several months, and Self said a smell of sewer gas, worries about electrical shocks and concerns about mold and mildew had him requesting a different temporary space — and a new permanent location. Self didn’t know if there was more room in the courthouse.
“I can’t risk my staff or the public, so I have closed that office,” Self said. Officials had been trying to fix earlier mold and mildew problems. “This has gone on for too long and is happening too often now,” he said.
Sam Kitchens, Bibb County’s director of buildings and properties, said weekend flooding at the courthouse was so severe that drain gates were lifted off and moved by the water. Workers had cleaned the courthouse basement’s flooding from Saturday and were moving equipment away Sunday when it flooded a second time.
“All that we did Saturday night and Sunday was for naught, because we had the exact same offices flooded Sunday night,” Kitchens said.
Four people work in the office. Self said people wanting to get married can get a marriage license from other counties, unless both bride and groom are from out of state. But the firearms licenses can only be obtained in the county of residence.
Kitchens said the stormwater had nowhere to go. He wasn’t sure if nearby drains were partially blocked or the deluge was just too strong. He said repairs would probably cost more than $5,000. The alley next to the courthouse has been closed for at least a year because of storm drain problems. An east Macon rain gauge showed that 0.75 inches fell Saturday afternoon, 0.2 inches fell overnight, and then another 1.5 inches fell Sunday.
Bill Causey, Macon’s engineering manager, said there was some localized flooding. Crews were working Monday to figure out whether partially blocked drainage lines caused the flooding, or whether it was just a very hard rain in a short period of time. Causey said he knew of water damage at Terminal Station and at a building in the 400 block of Poplar Street, where a brick pipe is scheduled to get some upgrades.
The rain caused other problems. The county’s engineering annex flooded, with damage to offices and a meeting room. But some of the most severe damage may have been at Ebenezer Baptist Church on Elm Street. Church secretary Barbara Allen said they’d been calling the city about a clogged-up drainage ditch since the basement flooded July 13. It flooded again Saturday, sending about 3 feet of water into the basement and destroying a fresh shipment of food for the church’s food bank.
One of the church walls is now cracked, and freezers and refrigerators that were repaired last month may have been destroyed.
“It’s terrible,” Allen said. “It’s really some major damage.”
Allen said city workers pulled out railroad ties, tree limbs and other debris.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.