In 1994, days of rain in Central and North Georgia led the Ocmulgee River to breach and overflow the 30-foot levee that keeps Central City park and the rest of the downtown area dry.
The flood levels this week are no where close to that, but according to the Army Corps of Engineers, Macon and Bibb County still had a bit of work to do to get the levee in top shape.
The Army Corps of Engineers inspects levees annually. The last time they were in Macon was March 2012.
"During that inspection it was noticed that the city of Macon, in conjunction with Bibb County, they've made significant improvements regarding the annual maintenance of the levee. This is mainly with respect to removal of encroaching vegetation that's unsuitable to the functioning of the levee," said Levee safety manager Lucia Newberry.
Too many trees and shrubs make it difficult to inspect the levee for flaws. Newberry says Macon and Bibb still had to clear "minor vegetation encroachment." She says they also found some recurring issues, including an abandoned sewer line that runs close to the levee and river water seeping through at certain levels.
That inspection led to a rating of minimally acceptable, which Newberry says isn't necessarily a bad thing.
"I know it sounds bad with regards to an acceptable rating, but minimally acceptable means there are some deficiencies that need to be fixed. In order to get it to the acceptable rating, however just having one or two deficiencies can put it in the minimally acceptable range," said Newberry.
Macon's levee can withstand a 70-year flood. That's the measurement used to indicate that there's a one-in-70 chance of flooding high enough to overflow the levee occuring each year. The levee was able to withstand a 100-year-flood when it was designed in 1948, but Newberry says river changes over time have decreased the levee's capabilities.
The next inspection is due on March 1.