Today’s AJC Deja News comes to you from the Sunday, July 10, 1994, edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
WEEK OF WATER LEAVES A TRAGIC TRAIL
It’s been nearly a year since Hurricane Michael barreled through Georgia, but the megastorm’s effects are still being felt today.
The Category 3 storm slammed into southwest Georgia Oct. 10, 2018, bringing with it wind gusts as high as 115 mph and over 5 inches of rain in some parts of the state. Michael is the costliest storm to ever hit Georgia. The state’s agriculture sector alone suffered more than $2.5 billion in damage, according to one University of Georgia estimate.
Farmers, their crops swamped by flooding, anxiously await federal relief funding that has yet to arrive for many. And one UGA researcher warns that a possible rise in suicide rates among Georgia farmers and agricultural workers may be in the offing as the stresses and costs of the storm’s after effects mount.
Michael’s impact was stunning, but not unprecedented. In 1994, Tropical Storm Alberto brought widespread damage but claimed far more lives than Michael. Damage was estimated at close to $1 billion at the time, and 32 direct fatalities were attributed to the storm, which was parked over Georgia for three days.
It started as an annoyance, a dreary July 4th weather system that rained on everyone’s parades and dampened their fireworks. Then the rains kept coming from the leftovers of Alberto, dumping a catastrophic amount of precipitation on Middle and South Georgia.
MORE DEJA NEWS>> Check out what we’ve covered before (and again)
The storm’s winds never topped 40 mph, but it produced some of the worst flooding ever in Georgia. Alberto’s most serious wrath was reserved for the southwestern part of the state. Rivers swollen with rain water ripped through towns like Albany, where flooding killed five people. Crops were quickly deluged; approximately 471,000 acres were destroyed at a cost of about $100 million in damage.
The AJC’s Scott Bronstein provided a macabre timeline for readers, detailing some of the lives lost as the tropical storm hammered Georgia.
Alberto most heavily impacted metro Atlanta’s southside, with Clayton, Henry, Rockdale and Spalding counties seeing the most flood damage.
“Tuesday, July 5, 2:30 a.m. -- Teresa Beyah probably never knew the floods had even begun when her car became airborne, hydroplaning on a flooded intersection in Spalding County. She was killed in the crash and was the flood’s first known victim,” Bronstein wrote.
Clayton County, which lost its drinking-water supply during the first week of the flood, also lost two bridges and part of a roadway. One person drowned in Fayette County; county officials estimate repairs to roads, bridges and public buildings at $650,000. Nine bridges and six county roads in Fayette were closed.
For a state concerned annually with drought, the visage of the havoc created by torrential rains was sobering.
“In the Deer Run subdivision of Rockdale County, Gloria Dixon, 16, dove into a ditch, swollen with rainwater, to save a neighbor’s dog. Her rescue was successful — and the last act of her life, as waters sucked her down a culvert.
“Only a week earlier, Conyers city officials were deliberating outdoor watering restrictions because of a projected drought.”
ABOUT DEJA NEWS
In this series, we scour the AJC archives for the most interesting news from days gone by, show you the original front page and update the story.
If you have a story you’d like researched and featured in AJC Deja News, send an email with as much information as you know. Email: email@example.com. Use the subject line “AJC Deja News.”
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.