"What we were trying to get a handle on is the amount of damage in the community," said Sam Grove, Cartersville city manager. "We spent last week looking at businesses and residences to see the level of damage and trying to determine whether or not we could receive assistance from the state and federal government."
Grove added a Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster declaration would require "significant impact on the community," measured traditionally by the agency as at least 100 uninhabitable homes -- homes in which water rose above the power outlets and the damage that ensued was uninsured. A Small Business Administration disaster designation would require 25 businesses that either have an annual loss of gross or net revenue exceeding 40 percent or 40 percent damage to physical assets.
"We were trying to determine that and we thought that we were getting around to talk to everybody but we would hear when we were out talking to somebody, 'So-and-so has got this,' or 'So-and-so has got that,' so we wanted to make sure we didn't overlook anybody," Grove said about the phone survey, adding such designations could make funding available for homes and businesses damaged when storms dumped 3 to 4 inches of rain on the city in a three-hour period.
The Northwest Georgia Chapter of the American Red Cross assisted 17 people in five families displaced from their Herring Street homes due to the flooding, and some of the victims had to be rescued in high-rising waters.
As heavy rain pummeled Cartersville that afternoon, a portion of Hobby Lobby's roof collapsed, and the store is still closed while crews make repairs and clean up. Businesses in Cartersville's downtown district also found themselves in the path of fast-moving water that flowed parallel to the railroad tracks crossing Main Street.
One ditch near the tracks is a "bigger" problem area for drainage -- the channel on the north side of The Daily Tribune News' offices at 251 S. Tennessee St., Grove said, adding state or federal assistance could come in the form of stormwater runoff fixes.
"That kind of leads to a larger problem in that part of town, that's the railroad ditch. We're trying to find options on making sure that thing is as clean as we can get it," Grove said.
City crews now are working with property owners affected by the flooding "trying to identify quick fixes or minor things that we could add that might help the situation," Grove said. "We're doing better than we have in years past obviously because we're putting effort and money into it. Anytime you get 4 to 5 inches of rain in an hour that's extremely limited in scope, it's going to cause problems relative to water in the businesses or homes."
Both Grove and Bartow County Emergency Management Agency Director Johnny Payne say the level of damage Cartersville homes and businesses experienced will probably not rise to the level of "disaster" required to receive federal and state aid.
"Like the flooding we had on the south end of the county in September, we tacked on to Paulding, Cobb and Cherokee counties and that's the only reason we got in on that," Payne said. "There's two types, ours comes under public assistance, which is the county or the city, and individual assistance and that's what we got for them. The people that were flooded out qualified when we got under the other counties."
Residents of about 25 homes on Valley Trail, just off Dripping Rock Trail, had to be rescued from those high-rising waters Sept. 21, as flooding from a nearby creek swept over the access road, preventing inhabitants from entering or exiting the neighborhood.
For city officials, the process -- which Payne said begins locally and then feeds to the state and federal levels -- is a learning experience, and will serve a purpose whether or not Cartersville residents and businesses get the help.
"What we are going to do is go ahead and go through the process and go ahead and summarize what happened and run that through the county and the state," Grove said. "We're using this process to learn, to build the internal team to evaluate damage and to build the management team that could oversee this or any other [incident]. You really don't like to think about that -- when's the next time and what form is it going to be in -- but we've got to get ready for it so we're trying to learn from this one."
Forecasters call for storms, rain this week
As NWS forecasters call for chances of thunderstorms this week, locals affected by flooding two weeks ago may cringe. The good news is that by Friday there's only a slight chance of storms, but even with a small chance, the rains could come.
"Each day, we're getting hot enough, it's summertime and there's enough moisture, even though we're under this large area of high pressure, there's still going to be a chance for something to pop up," said meteorologist Matt Sena. "The end of the week, we have a couple days where we're getting dry air, but when you get as hot as we're getting with low-level moisture, you can't rule out a thunderstorm popping up.
"These storms are very moist and they are dumping a lot of water the last couple of days. It's not unusual to see 1 to 2 inches of rain in a very short period of time and if you happen to get under one that's not moving much and it sits there for a while, that could add up and you could end up usually with 2 to 3 inches total."
Heat index values as high as 100 are expected today.