SAVANNAH, GA (July 23, 2018) — The City of Savannah experienced significant flooding on Friday, July 20 between 4:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The flooding was the direct result a large amount of rain in a short time period, coupled with an above average high tide. High tide occurred at 4:15 p.m.
Close to 100 City personnel were deployed throughout Savannah during the rain event, including stormwater and traffic engineering crews, police officers and firefighters.
Chief Infrastructure and Development Officer Heath Lloyd was in constant communication with his staff and monitored the stormwater pump stations. “Our employees were monitoring the situation and responding the best they could to the situation, but it was simply more than the City’s system could handle. Simply put, too much rain fell in a very short amount of time,” he said. “Our dedicated team put up barricades, manned the pump stations, assisted motorists, and even rescued people from the flood waters. They did a great job.”
All the City’s stations and pumps were online and operating per protocol.
Lloyd said the fact that this rain occurred during a Friday evening rush hour further complicated the situation. “Roads that normally do not flood, flooded on Friday. Since this storm impacted the evening rush hour, our traffic engineering crews and police officers were having to close roads and help motorists find detours around the flooded streets.”
Peak rainfall totals were recorded at Fernwood Drive of 4.0 inches, Frontage Road at Henry Street of 4.3 inches, Walz Circle of 3.2 inches and Rose Dhu on the Marsh of 3.0 inches. More significantly, rainfall rates were higher than the City has recorded in years.
“In some areas of the City, Friday’s rain was the equivalent of the 25 to 50 year storm,” said Public Works director John Sawyer. “That means we had a one in 25 or one in 50 chance this year of having a rainfall like the one we had on Friday.”
“We want to encourage motorists to not drive through standing water, it’s for their safety first and foremost,” Sawyer added. “In addition, it’s a public safety hazard. On Friday public works crews and emergency responders had to navigate around vehicles that were flooded and left in the roadway which made it more difficult to get to where they needed to go.”