Floods in Central and Southwestern Georgia in July 1994
Stamey, Timothy C.
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Parts of central and most of southwestern Georgia were devastated by floods resulting from rainfall produced by Tropical Storm Alberto in July 1994. Whole communities were inundated by floodwaters as numerous streams reached peak stages and discharges far beyond previously known floods. As tributary floodwaters combined and moved downstream in the Flint and Ocmulgee Rivers, peak discharges exceeded the 100-year flood discharges along most stream reaches. Severe flooding resulted in 31 human deaths in towns and small communities along or near the swollen streams. A total of 55 counties in central and southwestern Georgia were declared Federal disaster areas by President Clinton. Several municipal, industrial, and private water systems were inundated and rendered unusable for three or more weeks. Highway travel was disrupted as roadway bridges and culverts were overtopped and, in many cases, washed out. Roughly, 1,000 bridges were closed during the flooding, and about 500 bridges remained closed for several days while the bridges were temporarily repaired. About 140 bridges remained closed for several weeks for extended repairs, and 125 were closed for replacement. Estimates of road and bridge damage in Georgia were in excess of $130 million dollars. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) personnel monitored and reported flood information to other Federal, State, and local agencies from the onset of the storm until floodwaters finally receded. Stage and discharge data from many streams were collected and reported to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE), the National Weather Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Highway Administration, various State natural resource and highway departments, electrical power companies, and numerous county and city officials as these groups worked to minimize loss of life and property. Flooding was so severe and widespread that 15 USGS gaging stations were severely damaged or destroyed, requiring much of the data to be collected manually and reported by cellular telephone. At the height of the flooding, almost 40 USGS personnel were working in the field to collect and provide hydrologic information vital to protecting life and property.