Heavy rains Wednesday night caused minor flooding in the Harlem and Grovetown areas.
And this is just the beginning, said Pam Tucker, the Columbia County Emergency and Operations Division director.
Hurricane season started this month and Tucker said she expects it to be busy.
"Hurricane season is flood season for us," she said. "We tend to get lots of rain from downgraded hurricanes, tropical storms and depressions. ... And if we get enough rainfall, anywhere can flood."
Ralph Vaggi knows he lives in a flood-prone area. His Forest Creek subdivision home is in one of four flash flood-prone areas identified by county officials, who have mitigation plans to improve the area.
Vaggi's property backs up to Reed Creek, just behind the Reed Creek Wetland Park and Interpretive Center. Heavy downpours and debris in the creek will cause the creek to leave its banks and flood nearby yards and homes.
"It used to flood out, but not that much any more unless we get like 4 or 5 inches at once," said Vaggi, who said previous improvement projects have kept recent flooding to a minimum.
Tucker said the convergence of Hurricane Klaus and tropical storm Marco was the worst flooding she remembers. The storms dumped large amounts of rain on the area in 1990. Severe flooding was reported all over the Augusta area, she said.
Vaggi, who bought his home just a few months before the 1990 storms, said rising Reed Creek water flooded his backyard and swept away his fence. But water never reached his home.
But some nearby residents, he said, weren't so lucky.
That's why Vaggi said the less than $400 a year he spends on flood insurance is money well spent.
"I'm not required to, but I do have it just in case," he said. "I carry it if, God forbid, it happens again."
Tucker said the 2010 hurricane season is expected to be busy, with an estimated 15 named storms and eight hurricanes, four of which are anticipated to be a Category 3 or higher.
"We'll end up with some portion of something," Tucker said. "If we get enough rainfall, anywhere can flood."
Though hurricanes and downgraded tropical storms and depressions mainly cause heavy rains, Tucker said they also can spawn tornadoes and straight-line winds.
Damages caused by rising waters are not covered by traditional homeowner's insurance. Tucker said having the flood insurance is a smart proactive measure, one every resident should take, to protect homes and belongings.
Of the more than 52,000 parcels in Columbia County, about 5,600 of them are listed in the Special Flood Hazard Areas on the Federal Emergency Management Agency flood insurance rate maps, said George Eastman, the engineering manager of the county Development Services Division.
The majority of those residents are in the Evans and Martinez areas, mainly along Reed and Euchee creeks, he said.
Residents listed in those areas are usually required to get additional flood insurance to get a home mortgage, Tucker said.
"If you live near water or in a low-lying area, they really need to have it," Tucker said. "With water damage, you lose everything. You lose it all."
But any county resident can purchase flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program through the county. Policies can start at about $119 per year for low-to-moderate risk areas, with the average policy costing about $560 per year, Tucker said.
For information about flood risk or the flood insurance program, contact Tucker at (706) 868-3303 or Eastman at (706) 312-7278.
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