Columbia County officials and the Emergency Management Department has now changed its approach to the challenges created by this week’s storm and are becoming more proactive and less reactive to the damages created by the historical amount of flooding in our area.
An extremely important issue that needs to be promoted today relates to the fact that visually there seems to be water everywhere, today residents need to be absolutely conscious of ensuring they have plenty of water
inside their body. Predications are for record high heat in the area, approaching 100 degrees and the humidity will make it feel more like 110. That level of temperatures is expected to continue for the next several days. While your attention is focused on the impending flooding at Fort White, White Springs or just your individual home, it is essential you stay adequately hydrated. Heat stroke is a real potential threat today and is a serious health risk.
In terms of new information, it appears the Suwannee River at White Springs has crested. The measurement on Thursday was 85.22 feet and was recorded today at 84.76 feet with the flood stage at 77 feet. The river is
predicted to fall back under flood stage on Wednesday, July 4. The worst flooding is still ahead for the areas in southern Columbia County in the vicinity of the Santa Fe River. At Fort White the river level is29.51 feet and it is expected to crest on Saturday at 32.08 feet with a flood stage of 24 feet. No date has been identified for when the river might fall back down below flood levels. At Three River Estates, the level was 16.31 feet this morning with flood stage at 19 feet. The river is expected to crest at Three Rivers on Monday or Tuesday at 24.9 feet.
Public works crews are continuing around-the-clock efforts to reopen roads damaged by flooding. On Thursday afternoon, the count was approximately 98 such closures. Roads are being reopened as repairs are made. Some repairs are happening fairly quickly and others will need flood waters to recede before damages can be determined and repairs made. There are at least two bridges closed in the county and most box culverts remain to be inspected until flood waters end. Damage assessment teams are continuing to identify and document damage to structures. This work will significantly assist in identifying the level of damages in the county and to provide that information to representatives of FEMA when they review the merits of declaring a Disaster Declaration for our area and the rest of the counties affected by the storm in Florida. Local officials hope that designation is made sometime next week.
A shelter remains open at Richardson Middle School which is located at 646 SE Pennsylvania Street in Lake City. The Citizen’s Information Center remains open and is expected to do so throughout the weekend and into next week. The contact number is 719-7530.
The Winfield Landfill is open and available for all non-hazardous materials. You can call the landfill at 752-6050. Sand bags are also available at the Public Works Department and an aggressive mosquito
abatement program is being established for the county to combat one of the many challenges created by the flooding and ponding water.
The county parks located at Rum Island, Alligator Lake and Falling Creek are closed and will remain so until the flooding subsides. Columbia County Senior Services continues to monitor residents served by that
agency. The phone number is 752-0235 or 752-5655 after hours and on the weekend. Information is available on their web site at www.ccseniors.com.
Health Department issues continue to concentrate on potential well contamination and safe water issues. If your well has been covered at any time by flood waters, you are urged to either use bottled water or boil the
water you use at home. Bring the water to a boil and let it roll for at least one minute. The Health Department can do testing on your well water to determine if it is safe to utilize. Other questions can be answered by calling the agency 758-1058.
Columbia County officials created a new Facebook page today to provide additional information on recovery efforts. The Facebook page is named “Columbia County Flood Relief.”
Additional information is available on the Columbia County website, www.ColumbiaCountyFLA.com, or on the Emergency Management site which is www.ColumbiaCountyEM.com. That site includes a directory of
departments involved in the recovery efforts, their phone number and a brief explanation of services provided by that agency.
The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, assisted by officers with the Fish and Wildlife Commission, Florida Agriculture Commission and Florida Highway Patrol, are actively patrolling the county with a particular
emphasis on areas affected by the flooding. The agencies are also actively assisting residents attempting to evacuate from flooded areas.