- Associated Press - Thursday, December 31, 2015

ATLANTA (AP) - Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is declaring a state of emergency in five more Georgia counties hard-hit by flooding in recent days.

Deal announced late Wednesday that excessive rain caused extensive flooding in Gordon, Macon, Towns, Troup and Wilkes counties. Deal had earlier declared states of emergency in Fannin, Gilmer and Pickens counties, which are being extended to Jan. 7.

The executive order opens the way for state-level manpower and resources to respond to damage, said Dennis Knight, the emergency manager and fire chief in Troup County. Help may come in the form of state labor, equipment and materials needed for road repair, Knight told The LaGrange Daily News.

More rain moved into Georgia on Wednesday as forecasters warned that another 1 to 2 inches was expected to fall across much of the area by week’s end, adding to the deluge that already saturated the state in recent days.

A flood watch on Thursday covered a large part of Georgia and included the cities of Augusta, Americus, LaGrange, Macon and Columbus.



In Gainesville, the 19th annual polar bear plunge on Jan. 1 was postponed due to “extreme lake conditions,” the Lanier Canoe & Kayak Club announced. Recent rains have pushed the lake to its highest level in years. It was at 1,075.3 feet Thursday morning, data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers showed. The lake’s record high is 1,077.15 feet, set in 1964.

In the northwest Georgia city of Rome, crews were trying to clear debris so to allow flood waters to drain off roads.

“My guys are checking areas where there may be debris on the storm grates, and clearing them so the water is able to drain from the road,” Chris Jenkins, Rome’s streets director, told The Rome News-Tribune.

“They’re also constantly monitoring the roads that are closed, to be sure the barricades are still there and no one’s gone through,” Jenkins said.

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