Ed Duffy was lucky. He sold and moved out of his old house on Creekside Drive the day before the Kinchafoonee Creek came out of its banks. (Staff Photo: Terry Lewis)
ALBANY — In 1994, as Fourth of July celebrations wound down, Harry Prisant sat in his house on Lover’s Lane Road and began to grow nervous. Three straight days of torrential rain will do that to a man with a house sitting on the banks of Lake Chehaw.
Prisant was not alone in his concern.
Go here to see the 20th anniversary special section on the Flood of 1994.
“Americus had 26 inches of rain in three days. We knew the water was coming south and it was coming our way,” Prisant said. “On the afternoon of the sixth, I decided it was time to get the vehicles out, but by then water was over Jefferson and it was too late. We went back to the house, drank a few adult beverages and waited for daylight.”
Overnight, Prisant said, the water had risen 10 to 12 feet and it was time to get out.
“I got into my little fishing boat with Shanda, the three cats and the dog and we headed down Lover’s Lane looking for high ground,” Prisant recalled. “As we turned south onto Jefferson I noticed that I couldn’t see the bridge over the lake, it was completely under water. The whole scene was eerie and surreal. But when I think back now what I remember most is the horrible stench in the air.
“We got all the way to Philema Road before we finally found help.
Prisant’s house got five feet of water in it and was later razed. To add insult to injury, Prisant had just renewed his flood insurance, and trying to save money, covered just the remaining balance of his mortgage — $11,000. He received word the coverage had been approved on July 2.
“Yeah, I made a mistake and it cost me some money,” Prisant said. “But as things turned out, the flood was actually a blessing in disguise. My old house didn’t have central heat and air, needed insulation and new windows, so I took out a loan and built a new one.”
Ed Duffy lives on Creekside Drive on the Kinchafoonee Creek. In many ways, his story is similar but with a decidedly different beginning.
“We had sold our old house and had planned on Moving out on July 10,” Duffy said. “We had a party on the Fourth and we got a call from the buyers asking if we could move out by the fifth. We almost finished moving stuff out of the house when the water in the creek began to rise.”
After the house was empty, Duffy said he was standing about 75 feet from the creek bank when he saw something that sticks with him today.
“The creek was still in its banks, then I saw water rushing down stream. I looked down and all of a sudden I realized I was standing in two or three inches of water,” Duffy said. “It was around then that my son, Paul, called and said ‘Dad, you better get out of there … now.’”
As the creek continued to rise, Duffy fled.
Not everyone got out as quickly. When Duffy built his house he laid the foundation seven feet above the previous record flood high. It was the last house on the street to flood. Six people sought refuge in the house before finally being forced to spend the night on the roof.
They were rescued the following morning.
The Kinchafoonee crested at 26 feet on July 7 — 13 feet above flood stage.
Duffy eventually built a new house in an adjoining lot, but this time he built it three feet higher than his old house.