Soggy Roads Everywhere Several Routes Wash Out

Article excerpt

Schools were closed yesterday in eight Southeast Georgia

counties because of Sunday's storms, which flooded and washed

out dirt roads and damaged homes, officals said.

Because of recent flooding, Gov. Zell Miller yesterday placed

those eight counties -- and 51 others -- in a state of

emergency.

Schools boards in Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Ben Hill, Berrien,

Coffee, Irwin and Tift counties gave students a day off because

school buses could not safely run their routes, officials said.

Jeff Davis County schools already had a day off scheduled for

yesterday, but officials said they could not have opened with

the bad road conditions.

Appling, Atkinson and Irwin County schools will remain closed

today, while the rest reopen. Coffee County's reopening comes

with the proviso "for those who can make it."

The heavy rains have been blamed for at least one death in

Georgia, with another likely:

An Irwinville man drowned about 9:20 p.m. Sunday when he and a

friend stopped to survey flooding at a culvert on a Ben Hill

County dirt road about 7 miles northwest of Fitzgerald, Sheriff

Thurman Ellis said. The man had driven across the culvert and

was backing up for another look when a rear wheel went off the

side of the road, flipping the truck upside down in flood

waters, Ellis said. His companion escaped, but the driver,

Darrell Eugene Moore, 29, drowned, according to the Georgia

State Patrol.

In West Georgia's Carroll County, the search for 20-month-old

Brandon Thomas Malek Reddish resumed yesterday. The state patrol

said the baby was swept out of a car driven by his mother,

Rachel Lynn Barron, when it slid off of a curve and into

Buckhorn Creek Sunday afternoon. Rescuers offered little hope

the child, who the patrol said was not in a car seat, had

survived.

Heavy rains have caused so much damage to the thousands of

miles of dirt roads in Southeast Georgia that public works

departments are running short of dirt.

"We're buying sand this morning. What we had stockpiled is

gone," Coffee County Road Superintendent Don Stokes said

yesterday.

The county owns a sand pit on 17 Mile River near Douglas, but

trucks can't get to it because the access road is flooded,

Stokes said.

Stokes said the county had closed about 50 roads, and it could

be two to three weeks before all repairs are finished.

Here's a look at what else has happened across the region:

In Jeff Davis County, where more than 6 inches of rain fell in

some areas Sunday, dry fill dirt is nonexistent, County

Administrator Lonnie Roberts said.

"The dirt we're getting is wet. All we're doing is putting mud

on top of mud," Roberts said.

Some of the paved state roads in Jeff Davis also were flooded,

but that did not hamper traffic because most motorists had easy

detours.

Atkinson County closed its schools after 5 inches of rain fell

in Pearson between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. Sunday, said County

Commission Chairman Jack Taft.

"We're washed away everywhere," Taft said. "We had water across

some state routes. We've got more water than I've ever seen in

this part of the country."

In Bacon County, crews were out marking closed roads and trying

to open culverts clogged with debris, said County Commission

Chairman Eugene Dials. The water was so high in some areas it

placed the safety of school transportation in doubt, Dials said. …