ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - A 500 year flood devastated the Good Life City and other areas of Southwest Georgia this week 25 years ago.
On June 30, 1994, the warning for Tropical Storm Alberto was issued. The storm hit Florida on July 3 before moving inland toward Georgia.
[ More from the Flood of ’94 : Alberto effect present after two decades ]
[ More from the Flood of ’94 : Americus remembers the Flood of 1994 ]
The deluge of rain flooded streets, ate away at homes, creeks and dams gave out and bridges were out of sight.
The rainfall forced the Flint River to record levels and when it crested at 23 feet above sea level, thousands of homes, churches and businesses were destroyed.
After the flood, Albany leaders told WALB the crisis led to major changes in emergency management.
First responders share their stories of working during the disastrous storm, rescuing people off their roofs.
Some were trapped on opposite parts of the city from their families, unable to even talk to them for days.
The Oglethorpe Bridge.
Many drive across it every day but 25 years ago when the Flint River flooded, waters reached the top of the bridge and split the city of Albany in two.
Sam Allen just started working as a paramedic in Dougherty County. Only seven months on the job, he had no idea what was in store for him.
“My partner, Irving Hall and I, we were the last ambulance that crossed the Oglethorpe Bride. They told us five miles an hour, we hope you make it,” Allen, now the emergency medical services director, said.
With a critical condition patient in the back of their ambulance, Allen and Hall couldn’t turn around. They had to get him to an open hospital. They rolled down all of the windows, took to the middle of the bridge and didn’t look back.
“We didn’t exactly know what was coming down," Allen recalled. "We knew we were going to have some flooding. We had no idea the magnitude of what was coming down.”
Thousands of South Georgians were left homeless. The flood caused more than $500 million in damages.
In the midst of the disaster, Allen worked days on end getting people to safety.
His wife was miles away.
“We didn’t have communication back with our families," Allen said. “She was taking care of my three boys. She did a great job because I wasn’t there. I was busy stuck on the East Side.”
Out of all of the despair, Allen pointed out, if they hadn’t have gone through the flood 25 years ago, more would have been lost during Hurricane Michael in October 2018.
“And I commend everybody that pulled together and made it happen so everybody was taken care of as best we could," Allen said. "It was a trying time, but we learned a lot of lessons from it.”
Allen said like they prepared for Michael, they’ll continue to prepare for any storms the city may face.