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Officials lift evacuation order by Heads Creek Reservoir in Spalding County

The threat of flooding prompted the initial order.

SPALDING COUNTY, Ga. — Officials with the Spalding County Sheriff's Office have lifted the evacuation order for residents in the vicinity of Heads Creek Reservoir.

Though the evacuation orders have been lifted, officials said bridges near the reservoir at Moon Road, South New Salem and West Ellis closest to Highway 16 are closed until they pass inspection and are deemed safe.

The evacuation was originally ordered Monday morning due to heavy rain and flooding in the area. 

The reservoir's dam had been under construction to improve its spillway structures, according to the City of Griffin, but the heavy rainfall over the weekend led to water going over the temporary dam erected at the reservoir. 

According to the Spalding County Manager Dr. Steve Ledbetter, a contractor in the area asked for the closures and the evacuations after they saw that some of the structures were being "overflowed."

The National Weather Service initially believed the the dam had failed in a tweet, but later tempered that statement, saying that the dam was "vulnerable to failure." 

Spalding County Emergency Manager Glenn Polk helped further clear up the miscommunication.

"Part of that emergency action plan included verbiage of 'imminent.' And imminent, to some, means failure," Polk explained. "So, it was misinformation put out that there was actually a breach or failure of the dam, which is not the case."

Polk reiterated that their public works department is doing its job.

Around 9:15 a.m., a flash flood warning was issued for the Spalding County area after local emergency officials reported receiving 7 inches of rain -- even with more heavy rain left in the forecast. 

The warning was in place until 3:30 p.m. Monday, but flooding on Moon Road had already begun to recede by Monday evening, photos show. 

Polk said they are continuing to monitor the safety of the dam project.

"The engineers are currently working, trying to evaluate the safety of that work area and if there’s anything that needs to be done to mitigate it," Polk said.

Credit: Tresia Bowles/WXIA

Caleb Bostwick's home was damaged by flooding on Monday. 

"It is completely swamped," he told 11Alive. "Water is everywhere."

Bostwick described the moments before floodwaters started rushing in: “We didn’t really know until about midnight. Power went out, everything started shutting off, thunder and lightning. It was bad," Bostwick said.

Bostwick said he's now facing thousands of dollars worth of damage. But he's not the only homeowner dealing with cleanup -- for a second time for many.

The same part of the state was recently hit by tornadoes just two months ago and residents are still dealing with the cleanup from the January tornadoes, in which an EF-3 tore through the LaGrange area. 

Late in the day, officials confirmed that Sunday's tornado in Troup County -- which ripped trees and flattened homes in the West Point and Pine Mountain areas -- was also an EF-3.



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