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Ga. Residents Begin Flood Cleanup

March 16, 1998

ALBANY, Ga. (AP) _ Relieved that the swollen Flint River spared her home, Beatrice Lockett did not mind spending most of Monday taking down her piled furniture and putting treasures away.

``We were blessed this time,″ Ms. Lockett said after being allowed to return to her home. ``I have a lot of work to do to put everything back in place. But I am thankful we did not get any water.″

The return home after a week of flooding was a relief for some Monday as the river fell to 26.6 feet in a slow retreat into its banks. For others it was a soggy story, but one with a better ending than the flood of four years ago.

This year’s flooding damaged at least 500 homes and 11 businesses and forced about 11,000 people out of their homes. In 1994, the river crested about 11 feet higher and left a deadly, more destructive path.

Mount Zion Baptist Church, ravaged by the 1994 flood, had about a foot of water in its family life center and pools in its parking lot.

``Last time, we didn’t know what we would do to get the water out,″ the Rev. Daniel Simmons said. ``We know this time.″

Janet Harris, who returned home minutes after the barricades were taken down Sunday, said she planned to spend the week spring-cleaning her undamaged home.

``This is the best time to do it now that all the furniture is out of the room,″ Ms. Harris said.

The waters also are drying up in neighborhoods in Decatur County, which was declared a federal disaster area Monday.

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