ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The Radium Springs community was one of the hardest hit in the flood of 1994. Even now, the effects of the flood are visible.
"This was what we came back to," says Radium Springs resident Fleta Harden, as she flipped through a photo album.
"Pictures don't do justice to it. I mean, you know, it was so much worse than the pictures are," says Harden.Five feet of water consumed Fleta and Charlie Harden's home on Skywater Boulevard. It left behind heartbreaking damage.
"I've never cried so much in my life, I don't think. I couldn't look at it," says Fleta Harden."I had to look through that window there to see the water. It was up to there and it just was kind of a shock, you know," says Charlie Harden.
That shock was compounded by the fact that the Hardens dropped most of their flood insurance just nine months earlier."We had $90,000 insurance on the house and we paid off the house and dropped it to $15,000 flood insurance," says Fleta Harden.
Like many others, the Hardens moved into a small travel trailer in their yard, and spent six months cleaning and rebuilding their home."I don't like the smell of Clorox today, you know spraying it on these walls in the morning and late afternoon the mildew would be back," says Fleta Harden.
In January 1995, they moved back into their home in a neighborhood that's forever changed."You know, Dawn, this side of the street used to have nine houses on it. Now it's got four. They were torn down," says Fleta Harden.
The centerpiece of the Radium Springs community was the majestic casino building.For 76 years, the beautiful landmark welcomed visitors to parties, dinners and good times swimming in the spring water.The casino emerged from the flood of 1994, only to be flooded again four years later.Because of structural damage, the casino was torn down in 2003, and the spot was transformed into a quiet garden and picnic area overlooking the beloved blue/green water of the spring.
Radium Country Club, once a vibrant golf course and restaurant, is desolate, closed, and is now county-owned protected land along the Flint River.Looking back at their photo album, 20 years later, Fleta Harden reflects on the Flood of '94."It seems like another life. You know, I know it happened. But it's hard to imagine that it did," said Harden.
The flood of '94 is a distant memory, but Radium Springs will always be home for the Hardens."We couldn't imagine where else we might want to go. There was nowhere else that we even thought we could call home, unless it was a high, real high hilltop somewhere," says Fleta Harden.
Charlie Harden also operated a Veterinary Clinic on Radium Springs Road and it flooded in 1994, too.All the animals inside were rescued as the water flooded the building.
The clinic later reopened, and Dr. Harden continued his practice until his retirement in 2010.