Teresa Smith, archivist and collections manager for Thronateeska Heritage Foundation, shows a print of the flood Radium Springs Casino from 1994 that will be on display at the Thronateeska Science Museum as part of a 20th anniversary exhibit on the Flood of 1994. Smith says the exhibit, which opens Friday, will include photos, contributions from city officials and private citizens and video of TV broadcasts. The show will continue through mid September. (Staff photo: Jim Hendricks)
Thronateeska Flood of '94 exhibit
At 10 a.m. Friday, Thronateeska Heritage Center, 100 W. Roosevelt Ave., will cut the ribbon on its multimedia exhibit reflecting on the Flood of '94. July 11 will be the 20th anniversary of Flint River cresting at a record 43 feet in Albany.
ALBANY — July 11 is a date etched in the memories of many Albany residents who went through the Flood of ‘94. That is the day when the Flint River crested in Albany at a height that a flood would only be expected to reach an average of once in a 500-year period.
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This year, the 20th anniversary of the flood, the anniversary of the cresting falls on this Friday. That is the day when a two-month run of an exhibit reflecting on the greatest natural disaster to hit Southwest Georgia will open at the Science Museum at Thronateeska Heritage Center, 100 W. Roosevelt Ave., with a 10 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“We’re opening then because we’re commemorating the Flint River cresting at 43 feet here,” said Teresa Smith, archivist and collections manager for Thronateeska.
On an everyday basis, the Flood of 1994 already plays roles at the Science Museum. There is a 20-foot-tall glass tube in the building next to some commemorative images from the ‘94 flood in one area, illustrating the depth of the Flint River’s 20-foot flood stage, a figure that was more than doubled by the high water. There also are images of Radium Springs and the former Casino that was flooded in another area.
The 20th anniversary exhibit, which will be set up this week leading to Friday’s opening, will tell the story in several media, including poster-sized photographs and videos of newscasts from the flood period.
“The exhibit will have several different features,” Smith said, adding it will be spread throughout the Science Museum.
“We have a PowerPoint that shows you the demographics of the flood,” Smith said, including maps illustrating how and when the flood waters expanded into different parts of Albany. “It gives you more of a visual.”
One display will track the path of Tropical Storm Alberto from the storm’s formation in the Atlantic Ocean through its path in the Gulf of Mexico and onto shore, where its remnants traveled slowly toward Atlanta before it doubled back on part of its path and finally dissipated in Alabama.
Although Alberto never reached hurricane status, the exhibit will include an display showing “the anatomy” of a hurricane and one on preparing for disaster, Smith said. “We will also have a display giving you the mechanics of a flood.”
Unlike most exhibits, this one will be interactive with visitors. A special “Flood of Memories” area will encourage those who endured the flood to share photos and memories, making their stories part of the exhibit.
“I think that this exhibit is more significant,” Smith said. “We’re getting help from the community and it’s a celebration of the resiliency of our community.”
Center officials already have heard from many flood survivors through their social media efforts, she said.
“We’re very pleased with the assistance we are getting,” Smith said. “We’ve had people share pictures on our Facebook page, share their stories. They’re asking how they can participate in the exhibit opening.
“We’re also beginning to do some interviews with some of the residents and where they are now, 20 years later.”
The museum is getting excellent cooperation from local government agencies, such as Public Works, that were involved in aspects of dealing with the flood.
“We’re getting a lot of help from the overall city,” Smith said.
Smith was one of the people affected by the flood. Her family was one of the thousands who had to evacuate their homes.
“I was very young, so I don’t have that many memories of it,” she said. “My family was one of the lucky ones. Even though we had to evacuate, the water didn’t enter our house.”
Starting with Friday’s opening, the exhibit will be open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays through Sept. 15. For information or to share a story or photos with the museum contact the archives staff at (229) 432-6955.