Floodwaters could threaten an estimated 80 or more homes in coastal Camden County as soon as Friday, said Mark Crews, emergency management director for the county in Georgia's southeastern corner. No evacuation orders were issued, but Crews said residents were being urged to start getting ready.
"We're telling them to take precautionary actions now, like securing things that will float away and putting things higher off the floor," Crews said. "I have a shelter ready if needed. I'm preparing for the worst."
The St. Marys River forms the border between southeast Georgia and Florida. Flooding along its banks has already affected neighboring Charlton County on the eastern edge of the Okefenokee Swamp.
Crews said he's not sure how deep the floodwaters could get. The last time the river flooded, in April 2009, about 40 homes took on as much as a foot of water, he said. The river widens significantly when it reaches two of Camden County's population centers — the cities of Folkston and St. Marys. Crews said he's confident the river could hold the storm waters once they reach that point.
Meanwhile, a Charlton County official said Thursday it could be days before the flooding St. Marys River drops beneath the Georgia 121 bridge.
Charlton County Commissioner Chairman John Meyer said that there also may be damage to the highway, according to The Florida Times-Union (http://bit.ly/MsNSmb ).
"I'm hoping there won't be any damage to the roads, Meyer said.
The National Weather Service has warned of record flooding along the St. Marys River in Camden and Charlton counties in Georgia. It is expected to crest at 24.7 feet — 12 feet above flood stage — at the Georgia 121 bridge and begin falling early Friday.
Officials are trying to persuade the remaining residents of flooded homes in the Georgia Bend area to leave as the river is expected to stay at a record level through Thursday. But many are vowing to stay put.
Meyer said the county has opened a shelter at New Life Baptist Church in St. George, but no one has used it yet.
Meyer noted that some encouraging news came from County Commissioner Mitchell Crawford, who said the river had appeared to have receded about 1 ½ inches near his house up Georgia 185.
Meyer also said there were a number of creeks and drainage ditches that feed the St. Marys between Crawford's residence and the 121 bridge.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources had gone door-to-door by boat to about 40 homes in the area. Because of the flooding, power has been cut off to the area. About 47 dirt roads in the area are impassable or barely passable.