SUMMERVILLE, Ga. (AP) — Flood watches were in effect in the U.S. southeast early Monday as forecasters warn of the possibility of torrential downpours on Labor Day across already saturated ground.
Among the hardest-hit areas in this weekend’s storms was northwest Georgia, where 12 inches (30 centimeters) of rain fell in some spots, forecasters said.
The flooding knocked out water service to parts of Georgia’s Chattooga County, where the school system called off classes for the next couple of days, authorities said.
“Our main thrust right now is getting our water situation back in hand,” said Earle Rainwater, who owns Rainwater Funeral Home in Summerville and serves as the Chattooga County coroner.
“Without water, you can’t do anything,” he said Monday. “We don’t have water except for bottled water and what’s in the creeks.”
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Sunday declared a state of emergency in Chattooga and Floyd counties. That directed all state resources to help with “preparation, response and recovery activities.”
In Chattooga County, several people had to be rescued from their homes on Sunday, especially in lower-lying areas of the county, Rainwater said. “They used Jon Boats, they used kayaks, they used anything that would float.”
Waves of showers and storms were expected to develop Monday in the region, as moisture from the Gulf of Mexico continues to stream across the South, the National Weather Service said. Some training storms — storms that drop several inches of rain as they move over the same areas like train cars — were also possible, the weather service said.
Parts of Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia were under flash flood watches through Monday evening. The chance for flash flooding also extended to the northeast, into Pennsylvania and parts of southern New England, the weather service said.
Church pastors and volunteers planned to distribute water on Monday in the small towns of Summerville and Trion, according to the Chattooga County Emergency Management Agency.
“We’ve never had anything like this before,” Summerville Mayor Harry Harvey said.
After visiting the community’s flooded water treatment plant Monday morning, Harvey said, “Things are not as bad as we thought they were, or as bad as they could be.”
Workers were at the site Monday assessing the damage. By late Monday or early Tuesday, “we should have a much better assessment as to what needs to be done,” Harvey said.
The Chattooga County School System will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday due to the flooding, Superintendent Jared Hosmer said.
“Without water, we are unable to flush toilets, wash hands, drink from the fountains, or prepare lunches,” Hosmer said Monday in announcing the decision.
Chattooga County, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northwest of Atlanta, is home to about 25,000 people.
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