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National Weather Service Installs First High Water Mark Sign in Georgia

(March 21, 2007) - The first of several high water mark signs to be installed across the southeast United States was unveiled in Rome, Ga. today. A joint effort of NOAA's National Weather Service forecast office and Southeast River Forecast Center in Peachtree City, the U.S. Geologic Survey and Floyd County Emergency Management Agency - the sign is part of a campaign to raise public awareness of local flood history. The Rome flood of record occurred on April 1, 1886, when the Oostanaula River rose to a stage of 40.3 feet, inundating parts of downtown Rome with more than 20 feet of water.

John Feldt, hydrologist-in-charge of the Southeast River Forecast Center said, "The High Water Mark sign at Rome is the first such sign nationwide. Other signs are planned in coming months. The signs not only document major historical floods, but more importantly convey the potential impact that floods have had and could have again on communities. They are a reminder to maintain our vigilance and evaluate our preparedness for floods."

Location of Rome high water sign and proposed sites for signs in Virginia, North and South Carolina (Graphic: SERFC)

The National Weather Service has declared the week of March 19-23 as Flood Safety Awareness Week in the United States. Floods are one of the most deadly natural disasters, and more people have lost their lives due to flooding than lightning or tornadoes. Kent Frantz, senior service hydrologist of the forecast office in Peachtree City, emphasized, "Most flood-related deaths and injuries could be avoided if people who come upon areas covered with water followed this simple advice. Just Turn Around Don't Drown®."

The Southeast River Forecast Center creates forecast guidance of river levels and flows for over 200 points in the southeast. The U.S. Geologic Survey maintains a real time hydrologic-monitoring network of river stage, stream flow and rainfall gages that are a crucial component of the National Weather Service's river forecast and flood warning programs.

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