The Flood of ’94: By the numbers

July 4, 2014 

The Flood of ’94: By the numbers

The flooding from Tropical Storm Alberto that ravaged central and south Georgia in July 1994 was Georgia’s worst in modern times.

All told, 31 people were killed across the state, many of them in vehicle-related accidents.

Rainfall totals from the slow-moving storm topped 10 inches in some places, but there were also 20-inch deluges in some south Georgia locations.

In Georgia alone, the floodwaters covered an area the size of Massachusetts and Rhode Island combined. (That would mean that almost 20 percent of Georgia’s 59,425-square-mile area was underwater at some point.)

Early descriptions labeled the disaster a 500-year flood, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers now calls it an 80-year flood, meaning there’s a 1.25 percent chance that a similar flood could happen any given year.

Here’s a look at the rainfall and flooding and the toll they took:

• The heaviest rainfall was in the Americus area, which received a record 27.61 inches of rain July 3-9. More than 21 inches of that rain fell in a 24-hour period July 5-6.

• Damage estimates for Georgia, Alabama and Florida were close to $1 billion. Damage to government-owned structures was estimated at nearly $60 million. Agricultural damage estimates were put at more than $100 million.

• 55 counties in Georgia were declared disaster areas.

• More than 40,000 people were evacuated due to rising waters.

• An estimated 1,700 roads and 600 bridges were forced out of service.

• The number of breached dams totaled 218, with 35 of those in Sumter County.

• About 12,000 homes and businesses were destroyed or severely damaged.

• More than 400,000 acres of farmland in Georgia were flooded, with water covering at least 60,000 acres of peanuts, 19,000

acres of cotton, and 10,000 acres of corn.

• In Georgia, Alabama, and Florida combined, more than 900,000 acres were underwater at one time.

• On one Georgia farm, flooding killed an estimated 250,000 chickens.

• Close to 300,000 Georgia residents had no safe drinking water for periods up to nearly three weeks.

• Interstate 75 was covered with more than 4 feet of water in places, forcing its closure for 60 hours.

• The Ocmulgee River crested in Macon July 7 at a new record of 35.4 feet, 5.5 feet higher than the March 1990 record. The Flint River crested at an estimated 35 feet at Montezuma (15 feet above flood stage), breaking a 65-year-old record of 27.4 feet. On July 11, the Flint swelled to a record 43 feet in Albany, more than double the 20-foot flood stage, breaking a 69-year-old record of 37.8 feet. The highest water, however, was downstream at Newton, in Baker County. On July 13, the Flint rose to a record 45.25 feet, swamping the downtown business area. The river has a flood stage of 24 feet at that location.

• The Flint River at Albany overflowed as far as 3 miles from its normal river edge.

Source: National Climatic Data Center, Department of Natural Resources

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