Heavy Flooding Destroys Roads, Ruins Homes and Businesses – a First-Hand Report by Chris Scott
Firestorm Director of Client Relations Chris Scott loves living in Destin, Florida. An Atlanta, GA native, Chris moved to the area for the beautiful beaches and sunsets, the fishing and water sports, her family and Church community.
“Destin is known for having the world’s most beautiful beaches and for being one of the luckiest fishing spots,” says Chris.
But over the past few days, Chris has documented the devastation of flooding on her area of the country:
“The Florida panhandle had constant rain starting 3 days ago, and during the night of April 30, violent lightening, wind and rain. Most in the area got very little sleep – a lot of ‘electrical’ activity during the night, and the rain was especially bad west of Destin in Ft. Walton Beach, Navarre and Pensacola.”
“At car dealerships, the cars were totally submerged. Many people lost their homes due to flooding. My friend Deborah Alfasssa is an example – she had to evacuate her home in Navarre at 2:00 AM. She and her 5 dogs had to find a place to stay and her car was totally submerged. She was not alone – I have heard of many that lost their homes due to flooding. At least 2 people died from drowning in their cars.”
“Road closures started night of April 30, from Pensacola all the way to Panama City. Many businesses flooded as well as so many homes. Assisted Living in Sandestin (Crystal Bay), had their first floor flooded. All schools were closed for 2 days but will reopen Friday May 2. Mack Bayou Road in Santa Rosa Beach and just down the road from me was like a raging river, very dangerous, and many homes located along that road were closed. 20,000 were without power in the Panhandle.”
“I’ve lived in Destin/Santa Rosa Beach Florida through hurricanes and tropical storms which have caused flooding and property destruction, but I’m not sure any compare to what the storms have done to the area in the past 24 hours; From Pensacola all the way through Walton County there is complete devastation!
Official Status Updates:
Okaloosa County Commissioners declared a local state of emergency in accordance with Okaloosa County Ordinance No. 91-23, as amended and Chapter 252, Florida Statutes, on April 30, 2014, at 1:00 p.m. In addition, Okaloosa County Commissioners gave Okaloosa County Public Works and the County Administrators Office authorization to provide assistance to citizens on private roads for safe ingress and egress of their property and overall evaluate public safety in efforts to restore operation in Okaloosa County.
Okaloosa County has sustained substantial damage on its roads and infrastructure. The county received 5 to 13 inches of rain and approximately 20 inches over, for the season prior to hurricane season. During the last 24-hour period, the county has fielded 672, emergency 911 calls, 128 calls for service, 44 medical emergencies, 10 submerged vehicles and 84 fire related calls.
Two shelters are open: one at the Crestview Community Center in Crestview, which currently has 7 occupants and Choctawhatchee High School is open in the south with 5 occupants. Water has begun to recede on roadways; however with this much rain and damaged infrastructure, there is the threat of aerial flood warnings as waterways continue to be impacted.
Residents are urged to be cautious and only travel if absolutely necessary. Please stay tuned to local news updates, Okaloosa County website at www.okaloosafl.comand follow us on Facebook (Okaloosa Co. Public Safety) and Twitter @OKALOOSAEOC. For more information or assistance, please call our citizens information line 311.
From Florida SERT:
The State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee activated to Level Two in response to the severe weather and flooding in the Florida Panhandle. The State Emergency Response Team will continue to monitor the situation, and provide support to counties impacted by the storm.
“It is imperative that those individuals in the path of this storm system monitor the emerging situation and follow all instructions from local officials,” said FDEM Director Bryan W. Koon. “All Floridians should stay alert to possible impacts of this storm system. Do not drive into flood water.”
The State Emergency Operations Center activated to a Level 2 at 12:30am EDT, and remains in communication with the impacted counties.
HEALTH ADVISORY FOR NORTH EDEN PARK TO JD MILLER ROAD IN THE CHOCTAWHATCHEE BAY AND EAST BAY SHORE DRIVE AND SURROUNDING AREAS IN THE CHOCTAWHATCHEE BAY
Walton County – Due to sewage spills caused by the excessive rain in Walton County, the Florida Department of Health in Walton County (DOH-Walton) is issuing health advisories for North Eden Park and surrounding areas and the East Bay Shore Drive – JD Miller Road and surrounding areas in the Choctawhatchee Bay.
DOH-Walton advises against any water-related activities at the above location until a bacteriological survey reveals that the area is safe. Sewage from the spill may have contaminated this area. Individuals, especially those with wounds and weakened immune systems, may be at risk of contracting a water-borne disease if they come into contact with these waters. DOH-Walton will advise the public when water samples confirm that there is no longer a threat to the public.
What to do
Firestorm founders Harry Rhulen, Suzy Loughlin and Jim Satterfield wrote Disaster Ready People for a Disaster Ready America specifically to address the need for disaster preparedness at home, and the book has become a cornerstone of many personal and corporate libraries.
“Remember: you are your own first responder,” the book reminds readers as it guides them through a comprehensive program of readiness.
After the Flood
Your home has been flooded. Although floodwaters may be down in some areas, many dangers still exist. Here are some things to remember in the days ahead:
- Use local alerts and warning systems to get information and expert informed advice as soon as available.
- Avoid moving water.
- Stay away from damaged areas unless your assistance has been specifically requested by police, fire, or relief organization.
- Emergency workers will be assisting people in flooded areas. You can help them by staying off the roads and out of the way.
- Play it safe. Additional flooding or flash floods can occur. Listen for local warnings and information. If your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, get out immediately and climb to higher ground.
- Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
- Roads may still be closed because they have been damaged or are covered by water. Barricades have been placed for your protection. If you come upon a barricade or a flooded road, go another way.
- If you must walk or drive in areas that have been flooded.
- Stay on firm ground. Moving water only 6 inches deep can sweep you off your feet. Standing water may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
- Flooding may have caused familiar places to change. Floodwaters often erode roads and walkways. Flood debris may hide animals and broken bottles, and it’s also slippery. Avoid walking or driving through it.
- Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
- Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters.
- Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations.
A flood can cause physical hazards and emotional stress. You need to look after yourself and your family as you focus on cleanup and repair.
- Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage.
- Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewer systems are serious health hazards.
- Listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink
- Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwaters can contain sewage and chemicals.
- Rest often and eat well.
- Keep a manageable schedule. Make a list and do jobs one at a time.
- Discuss your concerns with others and seek help. Contact Red Cross for information on emotional support available in your area.
Cleaning Up and Repairing Your Home
- Turn off the electricity at the main breaker or fuse box, even if the power is off in your community. That way, you can decide when your home is dry enough to turn it back on.
- Get a copy of the book Repairing Your Flooded Home (737KB PDF) which is available free. It will tell you:
- How to enter your home safely.
- How to protect your home and belongings from further damage.
- How to record damage to support insurance claims and requests for assistance.
- How to check for gas or water leaks and how to have service restored.
- How to clean up appliances, furniture, floors and other belongs.
- The Red Cross and other recovery organizations may provide you with a cleanup kit: mop, broom, bucket, and cleaning supplies.
- Contact your insurance agent to discuss claims.
- Listen to your radio for information on assistance that may be provided by the state or federal government or other organizations.
- If you hire cleanup or repair contractors, check references and be sure they are qualified to do the job. Be wary of people who drive through neighborhoods offering help in cleaning up or repairing your home.
All article flooding images published by permission of Chris Scott for Firestorm
Visit our friends at FLASH to learn more about protecting your family during flood threats