In 2009, President Obama declared 46 Georgia counties and 17 Florida counties major disaster areas due to severe storms, flooding, tornadoes, and straight-line winds that occurred in March and April. According to the U.S. Geological Services (USGS) Historic flooding in South Georgia Fact Sheet, FEMA reported that the damages in Georgia alone included 1,875 homes and 29 businesses affected by floodwaters and $60 million in public infrastructure damage (e.g. roads, culverts, bridges and a wastewater treatment facility). Throughout Lowndes County, 10 bridges and close to 100 state and local roads were impacted, including a portion of U.S. Highway 84. In addition, the city’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), which serves more than 70 percent of the city’s residents, commercial businesses, hotels and restaurants, was also significantly damaged by flood waters.
Due to the large area impacted by the flooding, the city reached out to regional community leaders, state legislators, Governor Deal and others to discuss the overall impact and needs to address the issues. In addition, just prior to the flood the city began updating its Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP) in February 2009 and adopted it in November 2010. Following the flood, the city initiated several projects including:
- Streambank stabilization / sediment removal near Creekside Tavern (March 2010)
- Installed rain gauges throughout Valdosta (September 2010)
- Country Club Culvert Improvement with plate (January 2011)
- Park Avenue Culvert Improvement with plate (August 2011)
- Streambank stabilization on Browns Canal (February 2012)
In 2013, the City of Valdosta experienced flooding again near the confluence of the Withlacoochee River, Sugar Creek and Two Mile Branch, as well as throughout Lowndes County and neighboring communities. In Valdosta, multiple properties were flooded, but only one commercial property had water enter the structure during this flood. Throughout Lowndes County, 13 roads and bridges were closed, including U.S. Highway 84. The city’s Withlacoochee WWTP was impacted again due to severe flooding.
Because of the potential benefit of a coordinated effort, the city requested assistance from the Georgia Silver Jackets Program. This program has a state-led interagency team with the mission of reducing flood risks by working together on flood related issues and discussing available opportunities. By bringing a number of state and federal agencies together positive actions have occurred, which include:
To learn about the Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) efforts being made, please click here.
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