It's been 25 years since the Flood of 1994. Some companies near the levee are reporting problems with water seeping under it.
When the Ocmulgee River floods, David Cox says puddles form outside his restaurant, The Cox Cafe.
"Without the levee even breaking, there's not anywhere for the water to go because it's too flat," said Cox.
Cox says that the water gathering also impacts other businesses on this side of the levee.
Macon's levee, completed in 1950, begins at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and spans more than 5 miles. It protects Central City Park, Macon-Bibb's landfill, one of Macon Water Authority's sewage treatment plants, and other industrial areas from the Ocmulgee River.
25 years ago, the levee didn't protect Macon from the flood waters. Lucia Newberry, levee expert with the US Army Corps of Engineers calls it an unlikely storm event.
"The levee over-topped, so currently, the levee no longer provides for that storm event, which means every year, there is a 1 and 2 percent chance the levee could be over-topped," said Newberry.
In a summary of the levee, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers calls the levee minimally acceptable. It says the levee is not as strong as it was when it was originally designed. Newberry says the county was asked to fix an abandoned sewer line and clear away nearby trees, which all got done quickly, but the county still needs to fix a seepage problem, meaning water can go underneath the levee and onto the other side.
County engineer David Fortson explains that that means pressure can cause the water to flow upward, and if it brings soil with it, the soil can undermine the levee.
Fortson says county commissioners approved more than $800,000 to fix the seepage problem.
"If we don't deal with them in certain situations, they could cause a levee failure," said Fortson.
Before work can start, the county has to address flooding complaints from Schnitzer Steel, which also sits along the levee.
Fortson says they reached an agreement with that company and the seepage repairs should be made by the end of the summer.
"The concern is that the levee itself is not high enough to withstand certain river elevations," said Fortson.
Fortson says based on the levee's current state, he believes it's more likely that a flood would flow over the levee. If that happens, Cox worries he would have to rebuild his cafe.
"It's not fun. It'll make you worry and put lines on your forehead," said Cox.
Cox says anytime he hears about flooding on the news, he gets anxious at the thought of another flood like the one in 1994.
Fortson says it would be beneficial to make the levee higher, but that would cost millions, which they don't have in their budget.
Newberry says the last time the Army Corps of Engineers inspected the levee was in 2017. They try to inspect dams and levees once a year. She says they're planning on doing another inspection this summer.
Want to see more archive clips from 13WMAZ's continuous coverage of the Flood of '94? You'll find lots of video from the vault on the 13WMAZ YouTube channel.
Be sure to like and subscribe to our videos here so you receive notifications for each new video we upload.