Rain, Swollen Savannah River Affecting Properties Along The River

Rain, Swollen Savannah River Affecting Properties Along The River (Image 1)

Since the beginning of June, we have gotten 30 days of rain, and that water is adding up and bringing the highest river levels we've seen in decades. WJBF News Channel 6's Ashley Bridges reports on how the swollen Savannah River is affecting property owners along the river.

The Wetherington family says they built a house that can weather just about anything: “We built to prepare for ants, floods…it goes with the territory,” Heath Wetherington says.

“When you build in a flood zone, it's not an issue of if, but when,” Phil Wetherington adds. “If a house is designed right, the water will flow in then flow out.”

The Wetheringtons are builders, so they would know. That said they didn't quite picture using a boat to get in and out. After all, their home is in North Augusta, in River North neighborhood, which isn't an island…yet.

“We'll have one soon,” Heath laughs, “who knows, this may be the way of the river.”

Looking back across the river to Augusta, there is flooding along the Augusta Riverwalk, but it isn't seeping into downtown. That's for a couple of reasons: For one, Georgia requires a buffer zone with buildings being 100 feet back. There's also a lot of infrastructure…the levee, the bulkhead, and the gates.

“If the gates were not closed, the river would be in downtown Augusta right now,” Savannah Riverkeeper Tonya Bonitatibus says.

That's the would…but with more rains on the way, what will happen?

“If we're lucky enough, it stops raining, we'll get through this,” Bonitatibus says, “and even if it doesn't rain, it will be here for 30 days, but if it rains, and when it rains, it will only get worse.”

So what can you do? As far as the water goes…nothing. As far as the Wetheringtons go…”I'm going to go to Charleston tomorrow,” Phil laughs.

North Augusta Mayor Lark Jones did reach out to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, letting them know the trouble North Augusta residents have already had, and requesting they try to cut back on the flow from the spillways.

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