Douglas County was under a Tornado Watch for much of Wednesday as at least three waves of storms pounded the area with more than 3 inches of rain.
But officials say the county was largely spared in a storm system that brought hail, heavy winds and tornadoes across the Southeast.
By Thursday, the concerns turned to downed trees and branches in wind gusts there were at 30 mph at noon. The Douglas County Fire Department reported trees and power lines down causing them to close Dorsett Shoals Road at Dorsett Shoals Run at about 11 a.m. Thursday until the road could be cleared.
There were other reports of trees and large branches down across the county Thursday, leading to power outages and debris in yards and roads.
During Wednesday’s storms, a tree fell on a mobile home of Cherokee Drive. The residents were not injured and were moved to another a location.
Douglas County Emergency Management Agency Director Jason Milhollin said there were reports of pea-sized hail during the final wave of storms that came through around the county around 10 p.m. Wednesday night and “there may have been one house fire.” But given the intensity of the storms, which left Douglas County and much of metro Atlanta under a Tornado Watch until 11 p.m., Milhollin said it could have been worse.
“We were very lucky indeed,” he said.
Wednesday’s weather event came after storms hit the area Monday but largely left Douglas County unscathed. Monday’s storms produced an EF-1 tornado in neighboring Carroll County that ripped the roofs off buildings, knocked out power to a significant part of the county and knocked down trees across that county.
Wes Tallon, spokesman for Douglas County, said he had a report of a big tree down on a vacant lot. But he said overall, “I think we were OK.”
“Certainly (we had) two nasty storm days in one week that I hope do not happen again for a long time to come,” Tallon said.
Douglas County Director of Transportation Randy Hulsey reported three trees down on roads and one road closed due to flooding. Hulsey said Mount Vernon Road between Skyview Drive and Sweetwater Terrace was still closed as of Thursday due to flooding. He said the road segment typically floods during heavy rainfall events and will re-open when the water recedes.
"We were spared from what might have been a very difficult situation given the frequency of the super storm cells that came in waves throughout the day on Wednesday in Douglas County," Hulsey said.
Lyndsey Sargent, communications coordinator for the Douglasville-Douglas County Water and Sewer Authority, said officially 3.74 inches of rain fell in the county Wednesday.
She said the county has gotten 18.74 inches of rain so far this year, slightly above the 18.68-inch average for the county year-to-date.
“We had a high volume rainfall event yesterday,” Sargent said. “However, our Dog River Reservoir was already full so all that water went over the dam.”
She said even with the heavy rainfall, Douglas still remains in a Level 2 Drought Response, noting that from April 2016 to April 2017 the county has had 33.23 inches of rain, well below the 54 inches that is normal for that time period.
“The metro-Atlanta region is still dealing with the rainfall deficit from the last year, so while a big rain event is great, we are still facing the problem of a long-term drought,” Sargent said. “Douglas County is in a good position at the moment. Our reservoir is full but it took much longer than usual to get filled up and we're facing a forecast of a long, dry, hot summer. Our streamflow, which is one of the gauges of how robust our water supply is, is still much lower than average.”
Sargent added that WSA Executive Director Gil Shearouse said Thursday morning: “Water today doesn't guarantee water next week."
Sargent said the Level 2 Drought Response designation will continue to be in effect for the foreseeable future. Outdoor watering restrictions are still in place and need to be observed by the community, she said. A full list of restrictions can be found on the WSA website at www.ddcwsa.com or by calling the WSA at 770-949-7617.
“We still need everyone in the community to be conscious about their water usage and to practice good stewardship of our water resources,” Sargent said. “This is especially important since we've had an early spring and everyone is or will be gardening, landscaping, and being outdoors soon. Conservation is still key.”