Northwest Georgia Loses Water Service After Flooding

Officials continued to scramble this week to restore water service in parts of a northwest Georgia county after flash flooding submerged pumps and flooded buildings.

Chattooga County officials said water for 8,000 customers in Summerville, Menlo and surrounding areas remained out of service through much of this week.

Chattooga County emergency management officials said that one water pump was operable at the city of Summerville’s plant but work continues to restore two others. Officials are worried that flooding damaged electrical components in the plant, but flooring manufacturer Mohawk Industries loaned fans to the city to try to dry out critical components. Other machinery that controls the pumps that push water into distribution pipes was being replaced Tuesday.

Some other areas were being told to boil water to remove possible impurities.

Water was being distributed by government agencies and private groups, with showers being offered to those without water in nearby Trion. Affected residents were also being offered hot meals, flood cleanup supplies and clothing.

Three trucks full of bottled water and relief supplies arrived at North Summerville Baptist Church before 9 a.m. Tuesday.

“It’s a God thing,” Pastor Sammy Barrett told WGCL-TV. “If you put the word out, and if you pray hard enough, God answers your prayers,”

County schools canceled classes through at least Wednesday.

“Without water, we are unable to flush toilets, wash hands, drink from the fountains, or prepare lunches,” Chattooga County Superintendent Jared Hosmer wrote in a message to the district’s students and families.

The smaller Trion city school district, which gets its water from a separate supplier, held classes Tuesday. Chattooga County offices and courts were closed, with some county buildings among those flooded in Summerville.

Related: Mississippi Businesses Lost Water and Customers, But Policies Won’t Cover

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is scheduled to tour damage Wednesday in Summerville after earlier declaring a state of emergency in Chattooga and Floyd counties.

The National Weather Service says radar estimates show 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 centimeters) of rain fell within several hours, with higher amounts in some areas. Forecasters say a very moist atmosphere and winds that pushed storms along a stationary frontal boundary, set up conditions for what they called “an anomalous event”

It’s the second time in recent years that some Summerville residents have gone without clean water. In 2020, the city advised residents not to drink the water, although they could still use it for other things, after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found high levels of some chemicals. The city raised rates to build new wells.

Photo: Residents fill up on water from a tanker in Summerville, Georgia. (Olivia Ross/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)

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