Storm Fallout in Valdosta

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By: Eames Yates

Valdosta, Ga. - The storms may have passed, but days of heavy rainfall have taken a serious toll on Valodsta.

The city has shut commute on many roads; Sugar Creek has flooded and is predicted to possibly rise even higher.

The Engineering Department closed part of Gornto Road at the Earl Wetherington Foot Bridge around 8 a.m.

Businesses near Gornto Road are preparing for the worst, as city officials have said it could take several days for the water to recede.

"Right now we're just waiting for the U-Haul,” Prashant Patel, Local Convenience Store Owner, said. “We already packed up everything. Half of the stuff is already gone from the store. We're just watching the water levels, when it's going to go down instead of going up."

This isn't the worst of the damage.

The recent rains have caused millions of gallons of raw sewage to spill into the Withlacoochee River.

"We estimate that about five to six million gallons of untreated sewage will be going into the river directly," Henry Hicks, Valdosta Utilities Director, said.

The Withlacoochee Water Treatment Plant is flooded and has been shut down since 9 a.m. The flooding is a result of the excessive rain that pounded Lowndes County over the last several days.

Some parts of the plant are ten feet under water, and according to Hicks, the levels could rise an additional seven feet.

"We don't know the extent of the damage as long as the river keeps rising,” Eddie Black, Treatment Plant Assistant Superintendent, said. “Whenever the river goes down we'll be able to ascertain a few of the problems that we're going to run into, but as for right now we don't know."

According to Hicks, there could be thousands of dollars worth of damage to the plant; the city's drinking water will not be affected, however, and sewer service is expected to continue as normal.

As for the plant, the reopening is in the hands of Mother Nature.

"It could be several days to a couple weeks before everything is fully back online, and that's after the river goes down," Hicks said.

Hicks also advised against fishing, boating or swimming near the Withlacoochee River because of the bacteria, and it could take a couple weeks before these activities are safe.

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