In September 2009, after several days of heavy rain, the Atlanta metropolitan area suffered intense flash flooding. The catastrophic event killed 10 people and caused millions of dollars in damage. Sweetwater Creek, in Douglasville, was the site of some of the most devastating damage. 

Zack Stephney was 37 years old at the time, and working as a shop foreman at a large trucking company near Douglasville, which was located next to the floodplain. That morning, he rushed to work to help his fellow mechanics move the company’s semi trucks away from the rising waters and out of harm’s way.

A couple of months after the flash flood, he came to StoryCorps with his friend Melissa Brooks to remember the unique circumstances of how they met that day.

Zack Stephney’s coworkers assisting him as he swam out to rescue Melissa Brooks. Photo courtesy of Zack Stephney.


Top Photo: Melissa Brooks and Zack Stephney at the site of her rescue in December of 2009. Photo courtesy of Zack Stephney.

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Originally aired April 7, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition.