The devastation in Southwest Florida has been prominent in the national news revealing what weather forecasters have always warned: hurricane winds can be significant, but it is tidal surge/flood that does the most property damage. Take a moment to watch this video from Ft. Myers Beach, FL. The surge is relentless.Elsewhere in Florida, as the storm moved inland, there was wind damage and local flooding from the slow moving storm. Some areas received 12 inches of rain or more from the hurricane even as it “downgraded” to a tropical storm before moving off the Florida east coast and again regaining hurricane status. For those Floridians who live along the waters of the St. Johns River, the flood watch was just beginning.
The St. Johns is the longest river in Florida at 310 miles running from its headwaters in Indian River County to the Atlantic Ocean at Jacksonville. The elevation drop from headwaters to ocean is only 30 feet and so the flow rate of water is never particularly high. The river is also the catch basin for most of the east side of Florida. So, at the moment there is a tremendous amount of rainfall from Ian that is still working its way into the St. John’s and then running north to ocean causing extensive flooding in river communities all along the way.
A good friend who lives on Lake Hontoon near Deland, Florida is waiting for the flood crest which is expected today. His house, set way back from the lake, will have water in the house if the waters rise another 2 inches. It will take weeks for the water to recede to normal levels – and that is only if there is no major rainfall. Other houses in the neighborhood already have water in their houses.
It is a long slow flood. Keep them in prayer.
How did the Friars Retirement home in St. Petersburg fare?