ALBANY, GA (WALB) –The Flood of 1994 remains perhaps the most significant event in the history of Albany. Sixteen years later, Albany has a new interactive tool to help prepare for such a disaster. It's the first city in Georgia to have the technology.
Representatives from the US Geological Survey and the National Weather Service were on hand to unveil this new tool. Its purpose is to help improve flood warnings and emergency management along the Flint River, because it's not if we will have another flood-- but when...
Although the Flint river is beautiful, it can also bring tragedy. The Flood of 94' is something many people in Albany will never forget. "It's not a matter of if we will have floods, it's when we will have floods and will we be prepared to deal with it," said Representative Sanford Bishop.
And preparedness is key since flooding continues to be a danger along the flint river. "Anytime we give the citizens an indication there might be flooding my phone rings off the hook," said Deputy EMA Director Jim Vaught.
In the past deputy EMA Director Jim Vaught asked those who called to refer to past floods for reference. "I have to say 'Do you remember where you were at this particular time, when we had this particular event?" he said.
But now Dougherty County is on the cutting edge, "This gives us a tool to estimate where flooding will take place and keep our citizens informed, so they can make decisions whether they want to leave or stay," said Vaught.
Leaders from the National Weather Service and US Geological survey unveiled a flood inundation map to help improve flood warnings and emergency management along the Flint.
That means from your home computer you will be able to access a web site where you can see whether flood water may pose a threat on your street. "You can pick your address and look at in a map view or you can look at in an aerial view and you can look at satellite imagery to see your house or a building or to see if a road is flooded or not," said Jess Weaver, US Geological Survey.
Folks will also be able to access live video of the flint river from their computer. "The more people that understand at a certain gauge reading what the river looks like the better prepared they will be," said Weaver.
Albany is one of 60 cities in the country with such capabilities.
Also, there is a new water alert feature where you can go on the Internet and subscribe to a service that will send text alerts to your phone or email when the river gets to a certain point to help folks decide if they want to stay or leave.
The USGS StreaMail system provides a method for you to query a USGS gauging site via email, cell phone (via email or text messaging), or handheld device, such as a Blackberry, for gage height and stream flow. You send your request to StreaMail and in a few minutes you should get a reply showing river stage and stream flow.
You can use StreaMail by using either email or cell-phone text messaging.
Important disclaimer: StreaMail is a "beta" product and is not meant to be used in emergency situations. Currently, there can be up to a 5-minute delay before you receive a return message from StreaMail.