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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) -On the final day of June in 1994, a tropical depression formed in the Caribbean Sea and quickly strengthened into tropical storm Alberto. A few days later, Alberto made landfall near Destin, Florida.
The coastal impacts were minimal, but the torrential rains were felt in parts of Georgia and Alabama. The remnants of Alberto moved from the gulf coast up through Southeast Alabama and into the metro Atlanta area, before stalling out and then tracking back over the already soaked communities.
The slow moving storm dropped over a foot of rain in parts of Middle Georgia. This amount of rain falling in such a short time frame allowed for flood levels that had never been seen before.
“If that type of storm happened again, it’s anticipated to be over topped because the levee is not built that high. Once its over topped it will start to erod. That’s what caused the levee to actually breach,” Lucia Newberry, a Levee Safety Program Manager with the Army Corps of Engineers said.
When the levee failed in 1994, the Macon Water Authority was impacted. William Brown, a MWA employee during the flood, remembers the role he played in trying to keep clean water pumping to Middle Georgia residents. When flood waters overtook the Riverside facility, Brown and his coworkers had to retreat to higher ground. When Brown went back to the treatment facility after the water had receded, what he saw was astonishing.
“We went down and checked it out. It left a water mark 15 feet on the wall,” Brown said.
Gary McCoy, the current Director of Water Operations for the MWA, echoed the same sentiments as Brown.
“We never imagined the water level would get so high that it would flood the entire building and we was out of water for 19 days,” McCoy said.
Employees worked tirelessly trying to restore clean water to their customers. After the flood, the MWA knew it was time to build a new water treatment plant so that this event would never play out again.
In July of 2000, the Amerson Water Treatment Plant was opened, and ever since has provided MWA customers with clean water. Although the facility is 19 years old, McCoy still has glowing remarks about it.
“It’s still a state of the art plant and we still producing a great product quality of water.”