New effort to battle McCoys Creek flooding


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The waters of McCoys Creek were rising Tuesday morning when storms moved across the area, but the rain stopped before it overflowed its banks.

Residents in the area say the creek has flooded whenever there's a hard, prolonged rain for decades.  

The low-lying and naturally flood-prone neighborhood on the Westside has frustrated city engineers along with those who live in or drive through the area.

"I've had to walk my little sister to school and everything like that and be flooded out and we had to walk all the way around," said resident John Paul. "You can't walk through it or drive through it."

The city of Jacksonville competed two retention ponds in July to alleviate the flooding, but that won't eliminate the problem. 

Now a local conservation organization -- North Florida Land Trust -- is trying to help out.  Using a grant from Wells Fargo, it's organizing an event this Saturday that will get people in the area in helping with the problem.

During "Mopping' Up McCoys," volunteers will clean up seven different locations along more than two miles of the creek, then hold a music an food festival in the neighborhood to raise awareness about the importance of keeping the creek clean and free of flooding.

"If we don't do something about it, it's not going to get better," said Melissa Beaudry of North Florida Land Trust. "These clean-ups are the start of really restoring the creek to a vibrant and healthy community."

One frustrated resident says people driving through the area when there is standing water just makes the problem worse.

"I hope they get it together real quick and fast so it won't be messing up people's cars, because it costs a lot to have people's cars fixed and stuff like that and people don't have money and stuff like that to be thrown away
on foolish stuff like that," Sherri.

The conservation group says the flooding is also hard on the water quality and surrounding environment.

"(Flooding is) also really hard on the eco-system," Beaudry said. "The trees, they have to take all that water over, and the trash that then ends up in the creek because of the flooding in the storm-water system is all really impactful to the overall quality of the creek."

The group says Saturday's event from 9 a.m. to noon will be the first of three cleanups they will hold.  The Emerald Necklace Festival -- featuring educational exhibits, music, art and poetry and food -- runs noon to 4 p.m. in Hollybrook Park on McCoys Creek Boulevard at King Street.