Tropical Storm Debby is expected to make landfall southwest of our area near Cedar Key either this evening or on Wednesday.
Debby will continue to have an impact on our weather through Thursday when the Tropical Storm moves into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Columbia County Emergency Management Department is still at a Level II activation (partial activation). An emergency shelter remains open at Richardson Middle School, located at 646 SE Pennsylvania Street in Lake City. Five Damage Assessment teams from Columbia County have spent the afternoon searching out and assessing the levels of damage to both public and private property. Their efforts will resume on Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, heavy rains continue to fall in Columbia County. In addition, both the Suwannee River and the Santa Fe River saw flood waters spiraling upwards and posing a significant threat to roads and homes at both ends of Columbia County. Flood stage for the Suwannee River is 77 feet at White Springs. The river was at 55 feet on Monday and had grown to more than 78 feet this afternoon and is expected to rise to 83.8 feet on Wednesday. The rising waters are a threat to access for residents in the area of Suwannee Valley Road, Gar Pond and Everett Terrace. Residents in those areas are encouraged to consider evacuation before flood waters cut off access to their home. All residents living near the two rivers are urged to stay abreast of on-going weather conditions.
On the Santa Fe River at Fort White. Waters are expected to crest this upcoming Sunday at 31 feet, flood stage at Fort White is 24 feet. The river was at 21.81 feet at midday. At Three Rivers Estates the river is expected crest at 25.7 feet with the flood stage being 19 feet. Today’s reading was recorded to be 9.1 feet. Serious flooding in the Santa Fe River area is expected to have the potential for property damage and access will be limited because of flooded roads.
The Citizen’s Information Center remains activated. Residents are urged to call the information line at 719-7530 and limit calls to 9-1-1 for only emergency situations.
As of 3:15 p.m. today, the Columbia County Public Works Department has identified nearly 100 roads that are either impassable because of flooded roads or have suffered damage such as washouts. Crews having been operating around the clock since Monday to make repairs and put up barricades to safeguard the public. Residents are strongly advised to not attempt to drive through roads that are covered by water. A list of the roads affected by flooding is attached. In addition, portions of I-10 both east and west of the I-75 interchange were closed as was U.S. 90 between Wellborn and Live.
According to the National Weather Service at Jacksonville, Columbia County can reasonably expect an additional 4-8 inches of rain between this afternoon and Wednesday. Additional advisories will be issued as conditions warrant.