Timeline for the Flood of ‘94
SUNDAY, JULY 3
Tropical Storm Alberto makes landfall, its center near Destin, Florida. Peak winds are 60 to 65 mph, but they quickly diminish as the storm moves into southeast Alabama and southwest Georgia. There is little wind damage, but heavy rains accompany the storm.
MONDAY, JULY 4
Never miss a local story.
Downgraded to a tropical depression, Alberto slows to a crawl as it enters Middle Georgia. Some Fourth of July celebrations are canceled because of the steady rain. Ground already saturated by more rain than normal during June cannot absorb the deluge. Creeks and rivers begin to rise rapidly, but the rain decreases around Macon during the evening as the storm moves north.
TUESDAY, JULY 5
Alberto stalls just south of Atlanta, then begins to backtrack, bringing more heavy rain back to Middle Georgia. As creeks and rivers reach flood stage, roads and bridges wash out or are covered with water. Residents along the Ocmulgee River at Juliette and Pope’s Ferry are evacuated minutes before the river floods or washes away their homes. Interstate 75 floods and closes at the south Bibb County line.
The first eight deaths are attributed to Alberto, including two people in Macon. In Monroe County, the steel suspension bridge at High Falls State Park is washed away by the flooding Towaliga River, which also sweeps two cars off nearby roads. Two people are rescued, but another person drowns.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 6
The deadliest day of the flood, with 20 more fatalities, including 11 in Sumter County, where Americus is isolated by the flooding Muckalee Creek and its tributaries.
The rain finally stops in Macon, but problems abound. The Ocmulgee River and area creeks continue to rise, and Interstates 75, 475 and 16 all close when portions flood. Many secondary roads are also covered, leaving Macon cut off from the outside world for a short time. The water plant floods, leaving residents without running water. The Ocmulgee surges against the bottom of the Otis Redding Memorial Bridge, threatening to topple it. A 300-foot breach in the levee floods Central City Park, along with the nearby industrial area.
Downtown Montezuma is flooded in less than an hour when a dam breaks to the north, creating a parallel channel to the flooded Beaver Creek. Then-Gov. Zell Miller declares 30 counties disaster areas and calls out the National Guard. Marines help evacuate residents in Albany, where 15,000 residents are urged to leave before the Flint River floods the city.
THURSDAY, JULY 7
The Ocmulgee River crests in Macon at an estimated 35 feet 4 inches (flood stage is 18 feet), although no one is really sure because the river gauge is swept away. Water starts to recede and some roads begin to reopen. Relief workers arrive, and the Alabama National Guard sets up a mobile water purification center at Lake Tobesofkee. Portable toilets pop up around town.
South of Macon, flooding continues. Water reaches second-floor levels in downtown Montezuma as the Flint continues rising. Southern Frozen Foods, a major employer, burns. Downstream, evacuations continue in Albany.
That evening, Alberto finally dissipates over central Alabama, having dropped 10- to 20-plus inches of rain along a crescent-shaped corridor from south of Dothan, Ala., to Peachtree City.
FRIDAY, JULY 8
Water and sewerage systems in Hawkinsville are shut down by the flooding Ocmulgee. The Flint crests at 26.3 feet in Montezuma, then floods Lake Blackshear to the south. The dam is breached and the lake drains, sending more water on toward Albany, where more than 400 caskets are washed out of Oakview Cemetery. Five people die in Albany during flooding.
SATURDAY, JULY 9
I-16 and I-75 around Macon finally reopen, but there is still no water to drink or flush toilets. The Ocmulgee crests at 41 feet in Hawkinsville. The number of evacuees in Albany reaches almost 30,000.
MONDAY, JULY 11
Cleanup efforts are in high gear in areas where floodwaters have receded, but nearly 180,000 people are without running water in Bibb, Pulaski, Lee, Crawford and Sumter counties.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 13
President Bill Clinton visits Albany, which has sinkholes developing under homes as water recedes. He pledges $60 million in federal aid to Georgia. That later increased to nearly $450 million.
THURSDAY, JULY 14
The last of the 33 deaths (31 in Georgia, two in Alabama) attributed to Alberto comes in Terrell County, when a car hits a culvert on a closed, washed-out road.
FRIDAY, JULY 15- FRIDAY, JULY 22
Cleanup efforts continue throughout the state, but it is months before some residents are back in their homes. Some flooded businesses never reopen.
SATURDAY, JULY 23
Macon’s water treatment plant is finally put back in operation, giving most Macon residents running water once again. But they are told to boil drinking water for another four days before tests confirm that the tap water is safe.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 27
Bibb County residents have drinkable water from the water system.
Source: The Telegraph; “Deluge: The Flood of ‘94,” a book produced by The Telegraph, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer and the Tallahassee Democrat; and the National Weather Service.