September 2009 Flood in North Georgia
Please page down to view flood damage photos.
Link to Georgia Emergency Management Agency Site
7-Day Rainfall Map
This map shows the rainfall over a 7-day period. The light purple shows the hardest hit counties. More than 20 inches of rain fell in this area. The black triangles indicate the locations of NRCS Watershed dams. NRCS is in the process of inspecting the dams to assess any damage that may have occurred to them. If they have sustained damage, repairs will be made to ensure that they function in another flood event.
NRCS has built 357 watershed dams in Georgia; 250 of them are in the northern part of the state. NRCS personnel are in the process of inspecting these dams to assess storm damage. So far, all of the dams have functioned as planned with an estimated 60 of them activating their emergency overflow spillways. (See video and photos below.)
None of the dams have breached even though they were not designed for a storm of this magnitude.
Page down to see photos of the spillway in action or click on the link on the left side of the page.
Issue 1 of the NRCS Georgia Flood Report
Local communities in Georgia, with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) assistance, have constructed over 350 dams in since 1953. Many are nearing the end of their 50-year design life.
Rehabilitation of these dams is needed to address critical public health and safety issues in these communities. In 1978, the Georgia General Assembly passed dam safety legislation in response to the 1977 Kelly Barnes Dam Failure at Toccoa Falls College, which resulted in 39 fatalities. The resulting Georgia Safe Dams Law exempted NRCS dams because of the agency’s superior design standards.
In 1995, however, the Georgia General Assembly began to recognize that time would take its toll even on NRCS assisted project dams. The exemption was extended one last time and expired November 1, 2000.
Through the Watershed Rehabilitation Program, NRCS can provide technical and financial assistance to communities for the rehabilitation of high hazard dams.
Another program administered by NRCS is the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP). NRCS assistance under EWP can help with the removal of debris (broken, hanging, and undercut trees) or impending debris along streams, creeks, or bridges that pose a threat to life or property. Assistance can also be provided for severe erosion along stream banks that poses an immediate danger to house, non-federal roads and other infrastructure.
Local sponsors must submit their letter of application by November 22, 2009 for this flood event. Click here for a sample letter.
Initial Emergency Funding Received - September 28, 2009
NRCS Dam Assessment - September 23, 2009
Georgia 2009 Flood Emergency Watershed Protection Fact Sheet (151 KB)
Georgia Emergency Watershed Protection Tri-Fold (123 KB)
Where to Get Assistance
If you are a potential applicant, you may want to call or visit your local office to find out if you are eligible for assistance. The local office contact information is listed below. If you are a sponsor, click here for a sample letter of application.
The September 2009 Flood
The torrential rains that have flooded a 23-county region in Georgia have caused a tremendous amount of damage. The damage would have been much worse; however, if there were no watershed dams in Georgia. Counties affected by the storm are:Carroll, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Crawford, DeKalb, Douglas, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Newton, Paulding, Rockdale, Stephens and Walker.
Georgia has about 357 watershed dams-and more than 250 of them in the northern part of the state. They are located in the following counties: Banks, Barrow, Bartow, Carroll, Catooga, Cherokee, Clarke, Cobb, Dawson, Douglas, Elbert, Forsythe, Franklin, Fulton, Gilmer, Gordon, Greene, Gwinnett, Habersham, Hall, Jackson, Lumpkin, Oglethorpe, Paulding, Pickens, Putnam, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, and White.
These dams are designed to store runoff from heavy rainfall events. Water is captured in a flood storage pool and released slowly through a pipe system in the dam. When runoff excess the designed storage capacity of the dam, excess water flows through an auxiliary spillway to prevent water overtopping the dam and possibly causing a breach. A dam is said to breach when it can no longer hold water and collapses. None of Georgia's dams have breached due to this storm event.
Structure No. 19 on the Little Tallapoosa River is behind the trees in this photo. You can just see the rise of the auxiliary spillway. This home is to the right. The design causes the water to safely flow around the house (see photo below) and down through the trees in the last photo.
These photos show an auxilliary spillway in action directing water around this home in Carroll County. the The video link below shows the water flowing. It may take a few minutes to load. This is Structure No. 19 on the Little Tallapoosa River.
Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Law
In 1944, Congress established the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program through the Flood Control Act of 1944 and the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act of 1954 (Public Law 83-566).
The Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program assists Federal, State, local agencies, local government sponsors, tribal governments, and program participants in implementing watershed protection practices.
The purpose of the program is to protect and restore watersheds from damage caused by erosion, floodwater, and sediment, to conserve and develop water and land resources, and solve natural resource and related economic problems on a watershed basis.
The program provides technical and financial assistance to local project sponsors, builds partnerships, and requires local and state funding contribution. The watershed program is a unique and flexible approach to natural resource planning and management, focusing on proper land use and the installation of conservation practices.