Flooded, soggy Southeast braces for more rain
Wednesday, April 1st 2009, 11:53 am
GENEVA, Ala. (AP) -- Thunderstorms tracked into north Florida on Wednesday but drenched communities across the Gulf Coast remained wary of rising rivers and flooded roads as heavy rain remained in the forecast.
The West Pearl River, already more than four feet above flood stage, had emergency officials in St. Tammany Parish, La., bracing for flooding, particularly in low-lying areas. The National Weather Service said the river could approach a historic crest it reached in April 1983 that caused damaging flooding.
Keith Williams, who keeps track of river flooding with the NWS office in Mobile, said there have been reports of moderate flooding across the Florida Panhandle and south Alabama, but nothing major.
"Of course, if the road floods and you can't get to your house, that's a major problem," he said.
At least 10 school districts in south Georgia closed Wednesday because of concerns about flooded roadways, and some schools in south Alabama were opening later in the morning.
Floodwaters in Mississippi swept as many as 20 alligators out of their viewing area at the Gulf Coast Gator Ranch in Orange Grove. But owner Allan Adams said the 130-acre farm is surrounded by swamps, the gators' natural habitat, and they are not a threat to people.
Williams said floodwaters at Geneva, which caused moderate flooding Sunday and Monday, were receding and forecast to drop below flood stage Friday morning.
But the forecast of possibly more heavy rains left Geneva grocery store owner Ann Stinson concerned for shop owners and others who pulled out carpets and furnishings drenched over the weekend.
"What's so frustrating is to think they're going to have to do it all over again," she said.
Stinson and others longtime residents of the rural south Alabama town near the Florida line said they had never seen so much rain in such a short time.
Parts of the Southeast have seen nearly a foot of rainfall in recent days, and a few areas had upward of 17 inches. Scores of people were evacuated, but most have returned to their homes.