A severe weather event on Saturday, September 18th produced nearly four inches of rain in under an hour, resulting in localized flooding to areas throughout the city. As a result of the flooding, Thomasville Fire Rescue (TFR) and Thomasville Police Department (TPD) were called into action responding to nearly fifteen calls of assistance from citizens.
“The severe thunderstorm from this past Saturday afternoon, along with high volumes of rain throughout the last week overwhelmed the stormwater capacity in various areas of our city,” said Chris White, Assistant City Manager. “The nearly fifteen calls that TFR and TPD personnel responded to during and after the storm resulted in a need to assist with 20 plus vehicles and many citizens. We are thankful for the actions taken by our TFR and TPD personnel during the storm to assist these citizens whose vehicles stalled in the flooded waters.”
TFR and TPD personnel safely assisted all citizens that were stranded in their stalled vehicles. “In addition to safely assisting our citizens out of their vehicles, our officers and firefighters coordinated the towing service of some of the vehicles from the flood zones,” said White. “The crews even dealt with a vehicle left abandoned in floodwater.”
According to White, the City’s stormwater system is a focal point of Thomasville’s strategic plan, Blueprint 2028, and was recently awarded a Regional Water Plan Seed Grant of $75,000 from the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. “The funding from the grant is assisting the City with data collection and analysis of current conditions related to stormwater management, such as flooding, infrastructure, and water quality,” said White. “This information will help us develop a Stormwater Master Plan that will assess existing conditions within the city limits. Through the plan, we will set priorities, timelines, and find funding for the needed infrastructure improvements to address current flooding issues while helping us maintain the best possible water quality for our community.”
Financial investment in the stormwater infrastructure is a large and necessary portion of the City’s annual budget. “Since 2019, we have spent $2.4 million on capital infrastructure improvements,” said White. “In addition to funding capital improvement projects, we average approximately $150,000 a year in annual maintenance to the system. The funds for stormwater maintenance and projects do not come from a dedicated funding source such as wastewater operations. However, we are committed to taking every necessary step and pursuing every possible funding source or grant that will assist with the continued improvement of our infrastructure system,” added White.
Another major component of the grant award will be the City’s need to implement public education for the local community. “We have partnered with Golden Triangle and Keep Thomas County Beautiful (KTCB) to provide watershed education to our local fourth and sixth-grade students through the Project WET Seeing Watersheds Program,” said White. “As part of the public education, we will mark stormwater drains that empty directly to creeks and create a video showing the many ways that people affect water quality. Additionally, we recently hosted a workshop for communities similar in size to Thomasville to share valuable information related to stormwater management.”
“We are thankful that this severe weather event did not result in the tragic loss of life or property,” said White. “Stormwater management requires the work of an entire community. Two of the easiest things we can do to prevent flooding are to not put yard waste in the street and to avoid sweeping trimmings into a storm drain. It is important that as a city we all consistently take the necessary steps that assist our stormwater systems to work at maximum capacity.”
For more information about Thomasville: Blue Print 2028, Stormwater Management, or the Seed Grant, please visit www.thomasville.org. For additional information or questions, please call 229-227-7001.