Initial reports from assessment crews lead Clay County officials to believe damage from flooding from Tropical Storm Debby may be worse that they first thought.
Black Creek's water levels are nearly back to normal, and crews in Clay County have been assessing the areas of Aquarius Concourse, Arora Boulevard, North Bellair, Tanglewood subdivision, Greenwood subdivisions and Orange Park South.
"It's really worse than I thought," Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler said. "There's a lot of debris in the water that's going to take a long time to clear. That's why it's still very dangerous for any boat traffic to be out here."
Washed away refrigerators, dog houses, boats and lots of tree limbs are keeping Black Creek closed to all motorized traffic.
"Before we can make this creek safe for the public, we have to document the damage and let those who are responsible for the clean know where they need to go," said Lt. Kenneth Stivers, of the Sheriff's Office.
Prohibiting boating during the Fourth of July holiday week isn't a popular decision, but the sheriff said it's necessary.
"If someone is out here operating at a high speed on a Jet Ski and they hit a submerged log with a bolt sticking out of it, they could be killed, and it's just not worth that," Beseler said.
The current is also really strong, making the creek dangerous for swimming and boating.
The damage assessment efforts throughout Clay County will continue throughout the weekend, with areas being assessed as they become accessible to crews. Damage data will be compiled for county officials and will assist state and FEMA damage assessment crews when they arrive in Clay County.
"There's going to be a lot of damage as far as carpeting, wall board, electrical systems," Beseler said. "It's going to be devastating, millions of dollars worth of damage."
All damage should be reported to the Clay County hotline at 904-284-7703. It is imperative that all reports of damage are recorded through the EOC.
The following roadways remained closed or impassable as of 6 p.m. Thursday:
- CR-218 W at Country Estates (road washed out)
- Scenic Drive E (can access to 4001)
- Scenic Drive W (can access to 4124)
- Lazy Acre Dr (east side can be accessed to 4055, west to 4191)
- Red Bug Alley remains under water)
- Main Street (under water from 3749 to the end)
- Hill Road (can access to 2173)
- Forest Drive (under water)
- Creek Street (under water)
- Enchanted Lane (under water)
Additional roadways may still be affected. County Public Works personnel continue to improve affected roadways. The Clay County Sheriff's Department cautions residents against driving past any barricades, due to water hazards in closed roadways. No vehicles should be driven into roadways that are covered with water.
The Clay County Sheriff's Office and Fish and Wildlife Commission continue to maintain personnel and watercraft in the Black Creek area.
The Red Cross will have volunteers distributing "comfort kits" to residents at Fire Station 14, 4003 Everett Ave., Middleburg, from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This is not a location to report damage. All damages should be reported to 904-284-7703.
Storm-related debris (structural and vegetative), should be placed curbside for collection.
An agreement with a contracted debris-removal collection company has been put into place, with collections to begin in flood-affected areas only at the end of next week (about July 6).
Once collections begin, a schedule of pickup days and locations will be published so that residents know when to anticipate pickups.
Residents are urged to get all debris to the curb as soon as possible to ensure the contractors are able to remove the maximum amount of debris.