Impact of Flood of 1994 endures two decades later
|By Carlton Fletcher, The Albany Herald, Ga.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Albany & Southwest Georgia Flood of '94 Gallery
These are images from the Flood of 1994, the worst natural disaster to strike
Loss of homes. Loss of farmland. Loss of livelihood. Loss of serenity. Even loss of life.
Go here to see the 20th anniversary special section on the Flood of 1994.
The community put aside differences of religion, differences of socioeconomic status and even differences of race for an unforgettable but regrettably short-lived period after the flood waters receded. The impact of the loss suffered at the hands of the Flood of '94, however, is still being felt two decades later.
Large swaths of prime real estate in the heart of downtown
Whole neighborhoods are gone, denying generations stable roots, a vital component of family history, and forcing whole families into nomadic existences that, for some, persist 20 years removed from the devastation.
"There are areas of this city that are never coming back," said
"It's been 20 years since that flood, but the magnitude -- the impact it had on this community -- is still being felt today. Folks who were born and raised here couldn't believe this was happening to them; it was like reading a fairy-tale story. Folks scattered, and many of them didn't come back. A lot of those who did are still having flashbacks."
"The results of the Flood of '94 were horrifying, there's no denying that,"
Retailers took note of the population growth in
"It's the same old story when it comes to retail: Commercial investment chases residential," Oxford said.
Some in the county point to another reason many Dougherty Countians chose to pull up stakes rather than use recovery money to rebuild on land that for some had been in their families for generations.
"A lot of the people in south
"When you have a large number of students who were displaced by the flood, many of whom were forced to move to a new neighborhood and a new school, there's going to be an impact," said one child psychologist who took part in conducting a study of the impact of the flood on area students but asked that her name not be used. "Understand, many of these students were living with older relatives -- typically grandparents -- who had difficulty explaining the phenomenon of the rising flood waters.
"Many used biblical or 'folk' explanations that often confused the younger students and left many feeling that either they were somehow partially responsible or that the 'retribution' for sinful acts could happen again at any time. Those images left many students frightened and unable to function as well as they had prior to the flood. And many experienced various levels of fear any time there was a subsequent rain event."
Still, the city of
"We learned a lot from the Flood of '94," city Public Works Director
"We were able to put together a plan that we think will allow us to mitigate future issues. But there's no real way of knowing how you'll mitigate issues when the river is at the level it was during the flood. But over the course of a decade or so, we were able to make repairs to our roads and to our infrastructure that we believe will allow us to deal much better with any other such high water issues in the future. Of course, this was a 500-year flood, so I'd have to anticipate that this was a once-in-a-lifetime event."
"All of our future plans in the vicinity of the river will be impacted by the Flood of '94," Taylor said. "There will be no more permanent, livable structures built close enough to the river to be impacted. And the city will own property it was given by the federal government that it can never sell but must maintain forever. We can't sell it, and we can't give it away. That will never go away."
Still, Crowdis says the benefits of being located along a waterway like the Flint far outweigh the negatives.
"A lot of the storm drainage improvements we've made in the county was financed using SPLOST (special-purpose local-option sales tax) money that was allocated directly because of the Flood of '94," Crowdis said. "We've put in needed equipment and we've made corrections. They're not going to stop the Flint from overflowing its banks, but these improvements will allow us to address these issues better in the future.
"The people of
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