Heavy rain in forecast for 24 hours

COVINGTON -- The paramount question on the minds of emergency personnel Monday was whether Tropical Storm Ida will bring a repeat of September's flooding woes, and they were urging at-risk residents to begin forming emergency plans in case of flash flooding.

While the rainfall is not expected to be as devastating as the previous flood events, Newton County Emergency/Risk Management Deputy Director Jody Nolan said the National Weather Service is warning that 4 to 6 inches of rainfall could fall between today and Wednesday morning.

"They're saying it will be a 24-hour rain event, beginning between 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Tuesday and run through 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Wednesday," Nolan said. "We have a very good possibility of it raining here the entire time."

Nolan said the area that is being monitored most closely in Newton County is the RV section of Riverside Mobile Home Park.

He said anyone who is in an area at risk for flooding should be ready to move quickly to higher ground quickly and plan to have a place to go should that become necessary.

"A flash flood watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding," according to the National Weather Service Web site. "Flash flooding is a very dangerous situation. Now is the time to take any necessary precautions to protect life and property ... before the rain begins. You should monitor NOAA weather radio or commercial radio and television for the latest information on this developing weather situation."

Nolan said, of course, predictions could change.

"We may get less, we may get more. People just need to keep their eyes and ears open," he said.

He also cautioned that there would be times of very heavy rain and motorists should be prepared to slow down and assume water will be standing on the roadways.

"Don't follow too closely and stay below the posted speed limits," he said, adding that hydroplaning is a major cause of accidents during times of heavy rainfall.

County officials had no plans Monday afternoon to close roads or bridges as a precautionary measure, according to County Engineer Kevin Walter.

"We're certainly going to be very vigilant to inspect our roads, especially Crowell Road, and bridges, to make sure we keep a close track on their condition," he said.

Walter said the temporary fix to Crowell Road that was just completed is expected to last a year or more and should hold up under the rains. Mount Tabor Road bridge remains closed due to possible structural damage.