Beryl Left Its Mark on Big Bend in 1994

May 28, 2012 by Julie Montanaro

Beryl is a dirty word to some folks around here. Back to back tropical storms in 1994 caused dramatic flooding and forced folks in Florida and Georgia to flee their homes.

It was part of a one - two punch in the summer of 1994. First Alberto stalled, then Beryl came along and made it all worse. It dumped as much as 10 inches of rain in the Big Bend in 24 hours.

"It was about two feet high here in my front yard. My back yard is lower, so it was about four feet deep," Joseph Vaughn recalled Monday as he stood outside his Lafayette Oaks home. Tropical Storm Beryl forced him out of his house for nearly a month in August 1994.

The water came up so fast people were forced to get out by boat before the sun came up.

"I think I got up to let my cats out and when I opened the screen door to the back, I could see the water lapping up to the three steps that came up actually into the house," David Derouin remembered. "I just said 'Oh my goodness!' and then I just started waking everybody up in the house and getting things up off the floor."

"It must have come up two feet that night," he said.

"I remember the water coming into the house and trying to rush around to get everything put away. My most precious things, besides my family, were all my photos and my pictures and getting them in plastic bags," Melinda Derouin said, "trying to get all those things saved so no matter what came into the house, those would be okay."

Melinda and David Derouin were flooded out in 1994 too. They still live in the neighborhood but their house on Monaco Drive was so badly damaged by flood water, that it was bought and bulldozed by the county.

Hearing the name "Beryl" in Florida's forecast again gets the Derouin's attention.

"I know that we're safe, but I hope that everyone is and I hope that the water does not damage anyone else's home or do any terrible damage that it had done to us," Melinda Derouin said Monday as the rain began to fall.

Beryl inundated lots of neighborhoods. Alberto and Beryl together dumped nearly 30 inches of rain in the panhandle in about 30 days.

Joseph Vaughn still worries what would happen if that one-two punch landed again.

"A lot of people are concerned about it. I'm still concerned about it. I still carry flood insurance," Vaughn said. "So I think if we had another such event or pair of events, we'd be in serious trouble again."

The back to back storms caused severe flooding in South Georgia too, especially along the Flint River. Alberto did most of the damage there. Its flood waters even unearthed caskets which floated away and later washed up in yards near the river.

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