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Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - 7:15pm

Macon Levee Should Hold

In Macon, a frantic, Herculean effort by work crews appears to have protected the city's levee from the rising Ocmulgee River.

Crews spent more than 24 hours filling, hoisting and putting sandbags in place after water started seeping into the earthen levee, which is nearly six miles long.

The levee protects the city from the Ocmulgee River which flows right through downtown.

The river is well above flood stage following recent heavy rains and flooding north of Macon, and is expected to crest close to 24 feet on Thursday afternoon.

On Wednesday a sewer pipe that runs under the levee ruptured, creating a large sinkhole. The sinkhole began filling with water as the rain-swollen river kept rising.

Tony Rojas with the Macon Water Authority said more than 100 people worked all night to secure the levee.

"What we have is a sewer main that got a hole in the top of it, a pretty significant hole, and the location of the hole was at the toe of the levee," said Rojas.

Rojas said the wall of sandbags is well above where the river is expected to crest and should hold the water back.

Over the years the levee had fallen into disrepair. In June, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducted an inspection of the levee after the city completed work to strengthen it. The Corps study is due out later this week.

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