Flooded, soggy Southeast braces for more rain

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

GENEVA, Ala. (AP) ó Residents of the rain-soaked Southeast braced for more storms even as they tried to dry out from a weekend deluge that flooded hundreds of homes, washed out roads and forced evacuations.
The National Weather Service predicted thunderstorms in the region Wednesday and Thursday, and some areas could get a foot of rain by the end of the week.
The strongest storms early Wednesday were in north Florida, moving away from south Alabama’s swollen rivers.
Ann Stinson said shop owners in downtown Geneva, where her son’s photography studio was soaked by about a foot of water, spent Saturday pulling out drenched carpets and cleaning up.
“What’s so frustrating is to think they’re going to have to do it all over again,” said Stinson, who runs Stinson’s Grocery with her husband, Lloyd. In 40-plus years at the store they said they’ve never seen so much rain in such a short time.
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.
Southern Mississippi residents were still cleaning up from last week’s tornadoes and flooding as disaster officials warned them to prepare for another round of potentially severe storms that could fill already-swollen rivers. In southeast Alabama, volunteers and Houston County jail inmates filled more than 2,500 sandbags for people to place in front of their homes to keep out water.
“We’ve had more than 300 houses flooded countywide,” said Sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Carlisle. “It’s everywhere, even in places where it’s never flooded before. Every low-lying area in the county is flooded.”
Schools were closed in one Mississippi county and more than a dozen residents in Alabama were staying at a motel. The problems could worsen.
Parts of the Southeast have seen rainfall between five and 11 inches in recent days, and some isolated areas had upward of 17 inches.
At least 30 people were forced from their homes over the weekend in Houston County, Ala. Dothan Red Cross executive director Susan Holmes said 14 evacuees remained in city motels Tuesday.
In Mobile, Red Cross executive director Leisle Mims said her agency helped find temporary shelter for 29 families, or about 60 people, displaced by flooding in Mobile and Baldwin counties, but most had returned to their homes by Tuesday.
The weekend thunderstorms caused an estimated $1.25 million in flood damage in Houston County, one of 11 counties Gov. Bob Riley declared in a state of emergency.
The severe weather has killed one person in Florida and injured 30 in Mississippi. In Florida, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office reported the death of an Alabama man whose pickup truck washed off a roadway and sank in floodwaters on Sunday.