Flooding closes I-10 in Baker, dozens of local roads

FHP: Standing water makes interstate impassable for 35 miles

Published On: Jun 26 2012 03:35:45 AM EDT   Updated On: Jun 26 2012 11:00:41 PM EDT

The FHP shut down Interstate 10 in Baker County Tuesday morning due to standing water in the road, and dozens of other area roads across northeast Florida are also closed due to flooding.

At 9 p.m., a 50-mile stretch of I-10 remained closed between U.S. 90 in Baker County (Exit 324) and the I-75 interchange. The Florida Highway Patrol and Baker and Columbia County deputies detoured all traffic onto U.S. 90, but urged caution because of pooling water on that road.

Baker County:

Road closings in Baker beyond I-10:

The St. Marys River near Macclenny is now at 19 feet -- 7 feet above flood stage and now classified a major flood. The waters are expected to crest at 20.8 feet on Wednesday afternoon -- the highest the river has been since 2004.

The Red Cross opened a shelter at Macclenny Elementary School on Wildkitten Drive.

All Baker County offices and courthouse offices will be closed Wednesday because of safety concerns. The county doesn’t want people traveling over flooded roadways.

Jacksonville/Duval County:

After downpours Tuesday light prompted flash floods in several parts of town, the Red Cross opened a shelter Red Cross opened a shelter for Jacksonville residents at the Legends Center at 5130 Soutel Drive.

"Safety is priority one," said Mayor Alvin Brown. "Everyone should exercise caution and avoid flood waters. Level 2 activation means that the city has increased its observation and put additional resources on standby to respond. We ask that residents do the same and develop family plans to use throughout tropical storm season."

As of Tuesday morning, officials with Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department said up to 12 inches of rain had fallen in the area, saturating the ground and causing about 60 road closures overall.

From crews' reports, one home in the Boone Park area has been destroyed. Another home in the McCoys Creek area has suffered major damage, and 11 properties in Boone Park and McCoy's Creek have suffered minor damage from flooding. A fixed base operator hangar at Jacksonville International Airport also suffered wind damage. Commercial air service was not impacted.

The storm has also caused some power outages. As of early Monday evening, JEA reported 172 power outages in Jacksonville. The number of outages is constantly changing; however, JEA experienced a high of 2,600 outages earlier Tuesday.

Road closings in Jacksonville (as of 1 p.m. Tuesday):

JFRD said I-10 at Chaffee Road has received about 2-4 inches of rain in a short period of time. Drivers are urged to avoid the area or use extreme caution.

Residents are urged to not only avoid driving through standing water, but are also advised to avoid walking through standing water.

"It is very easy to walk outside and see that it is not raining," said Fire Chief Marty Senterfitt. "However, residents need to be aware that the ground is already saturated and more rain is coming. So be prepared."

The University of North Florida campus will be closed until noon Wednesday. Further updates about the status of UNF classes will be posted at unf.com.

Damage caused by Tropical Storm Debby should be reported online at 630CITY.coj.net, by email at 630CITY@coj.net, or by calling 904-630-CITY (2489). Calls regarding injuries should be directed to 911.

Clay County:

Black Creek is experiencing a major flood and nearing historic high levels.  The north fork was at 22.5 feet -- 8 feet above above flood stage. It is forecast to crest on Wednesday at 25 feet, higher than it's been since 1919.

There are voluntary evacuations around the creek and the Red Cross has opened Middleburg High School as a emergency shelter.

Late Tuesday, the Clay County Emergency Management Office advised residents to evacuate in the following areas because of flooding:

Due to hazardous road conditions, the Florida Forest Service has closed its two state forests in Clay County: Belmore and Jennings.

Road closing in Clay County as of 10 p.m. Tuesday:

As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, Clay Electric was reporting power outages at six homes; FPL reported outages at 450 homes; and, JEA had no outages reported.

Columbia County:

Road closings in Columbia County as of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday:

A Columbia County shelter is now open at Richardson Middle School at 646 SE Pennsylvania Street, one block south of Baya Avenue.

Nassau County:

The Red Cross is opening a shelter at Hilliard High School at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

There are some rescues going on now along Thomas Creek, south of Callahan, and water is coming up to some mobile homes on Dornbush Drive, off Lem Turner.

Nassau County has also set up two locations to hand out sandbags:

Residents are given bags and sand is available, but they need to bring shovels and be prepared to fill the bags.

Due to hazardous road conditions, the Florida Forest Service has closed three state forests in Nassau County: Cary, Four Creeks and Ralph E. Simmons Memorial.

For any other information, Nassau County residents can call the Emergency Operations Center at 904-548-4980.

Bradford County:

Properties near Alligator Creek continue to experience flooding.

The Red Cross has opened a shelter Starke Elementary School at 1000 Wes Weldon Street.

The Storm:

Debby has dropped up to two feet of rain in some parts of north Florida and southeast Georgia promises to bring more of the same Tuesday as it moves slowly on a path forecast to take it over the state and into the Atlantic Ocean by Thursday.

"In all my years I've lived in Baker County all my life and I don’t believe I've ever seen the rain come down like this," Baker County Sheriff Joey Dobson said. "I don't think I've ever seen I-10 closed, at least for water anyway."

Just west in Columbia County, emergency management officials say numerous roads are closed and ask people to stay off the road if possible. Florida Gateway College closed Tuesday because its entrance road is flooded.

The National Hurricane Center said Debby was about 65 miles west-northwest of Cedar Key and moving east at near 6 mph. It had maximum sustained winds near 40 mph.