PANAMA CITY, Fla. - Flooding prompted road and waterway closures throughout the rain-soaked Florida Panhandle on Friday.
Emergency officials from Pensacola to Panama City encouraged residents to stay off water-clogged roads following days of heavy rain. Forecasters called for more rain through the next several days.
In Walton County, a dyke break caused the U.S. Coast Guard to close a four-mile section of the Intracoastal Waterway between Choctawatchee Bay and West Bay late Thursday.
Coast Guard officials say they received a call from boaters Thursday afternoon reporting that the dyke had given way at mile marker 263 between Panama City and Destin.
The Coast Guard said Friday afternoon that the Intercostal Waterway between mile marker 262 to mile marker 266 in Walton County would remain closed until workers could take care of the broken dyke.
The Walton County Commission held a special meeting Friday morning to declare a state of emergency because of flooding throughout that area.
Bay County officials said Friday that roadways there were open, after some closings a day earlier. The county has set up a Red Cross shelter in anticipation of more flooding.
Thunderstorms caused periodic power outages in the Pensacola area on Friday and many downtown roads had standing water.
The National Park Service closed Fort Pickens Road, a scenic roadway that runs through Gulf Islands National Seashore on the East Side of Pensacola Beach and provides the only accesses to a popular RV campground. In previous flooding, the park service drew the ire of campers by forcing them to evacuate the campground. On Friday, the park service said campers who are already set up at the campground and those who have existing reservations would be allowed access to the park. Park officials said the road would be closed to other visitors.
"With all the rain overnight and early this morning, low lying sections of the Fort Pickens Road have become flooded," park superintendent Dan Brown said in a released statement. "Park staff are working to remove any buildup of sand to enable the road to be reopened as soon as the water subsides. With the heavy equipment maneuvering back and forth to move sand, we need to limit the number of vehicles on the road for visitor safety and to allow the equipment to operate."
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