ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – After heavy rains swept through northeast Florida for two days residents began cleaning up the aftermath Monday. Some said it was the worst flooding they had seen in over a decade.
Locals even expressed their concern over the fact that the problems they faced weren't completely a result of rising tides and heavy rains but were caused by poor drainage and water retention and they want the city to take action to stop future problems.
According to residents like Carla and Doug Mauer, who have lived and worked on Market Street in Springfield, water had never reached as high as it did Sunday and said something needed to be done.
"Over the sidewalk, over the grass, the sea of water," Doug Mauer said. "Just a small retention would help a lot. And they need to clean out these drainage systems you see there, They're always backed up and dirty and full of junk so it's hard for the water to drain even if it does."
Residents off of Stanley Road in Mayport Village also had their share of issues and even with water still flooding the area, homeowners tried to get things back to normal.
"All the furniture is probably going to have to be replaced. We're going to have to go in and replace the drywall, a little bit of the electrical stuff and all the cabinets. We were pretty lucky though, the only personal things that we lost (were) a few clothing and shoes, the waterway that washed away when we opened the door," resident Andy Thorton said.
Thorton said that when he moved into his apartment at Mayport Village 15 months ago he didn't plan for a water front view after the rain left him and seven other units surrounded by more than a foot of water.
"Our neighbor actually came over and warned us that the water was coming up really quickly and about 10 minutes after he told us it started coming into our front door," Thorton said. "I spoke to the woman who used to live in my apartment back in the 80s' and she said that it flooded pretty high back then, at least 3 feet, and it took three or four days for it all to drain away. Obviously we hope it's a little faster this time but I don't know."
Residents of the Arium Apartments in Mayport Village are back in their units cleaning up after they fled rising waters from over 11 inches of rain that fell on the area Sunday.
Jacksonville Fire-Rescue said 32 ground-floor units were damaged by flooding. The level of flooding varied from wet carpets to several feet of water inside the units, JFRD spokesman Tom Francis said.
"(I) just opened the door, (and) water poured in," resident Jessie Oaks said. "So I slammed the door back and water was still coming in, and when people drive fast up and down the road, water still comes into your apartment."
Monday morning, crews cleaned out a storm drain and the waters receded.
JFRD crews remained on site Monday morning as a precaution, Francis said.
Francis said some residents are staying with families and others went to the Red Cross shelter. Some decided to stay in their apartments, he said.
JEA also responded out of concern that water might damage the transformer for in the complex, but it did not, he said.
Sunday's storm and flooding washed out a section of the perimeter fence of Naval Station Mayport, near the commercial gate on the Mayport Village side of the base. Crews moved sand and restored the fence by midday Monday.
About two miles south of Mayport, rising water flooded the ground floor of a small complex on Stanley Road in Atlantic Beach. Photos sent by a viewer show at least 12 inches of water inside one apartment.
Wes Kelly said he got a call from a neighbor at 7 p.m. Sunday that the water was coming up fast without warning.
"We couldn't get our car down the road," Kelley said. "We had to walk. We parked at a gas station and walked down here. The water was so high it was up to the electrical outlets, so I grabbed my dog and I just got out here. I didn't want to get electrocuted."
When he realized he could safely go inside, Kelley found that everything on the floor was ruined, including a sofa, DVDs and albums. In the kitchen, water damaged the lower cabinets and the stove. In the bedroom, a mattress and clothes were soaked.
"So as far as what we're going to do is get anything we can, and I guess wait for the water to recede or the city to pump it out," Kelley said.
Kelley said he feels lucky because he has a place to stay. He said his neighbors had to sleep in their car Sunday night.
The city's Emergency Operations Center has not been activated, but Red Cross officials said they've reopened their shelter at Highlands United Presbyterian Church at 10900 McCormick Road.
Red Cross volunteers are driving through affected areas with clean-up kits, snacks and water to help people as they start to clean their homes, officials said.
Anyone with immediate needs is encouraged to visit the shelter or call the American Red Cross at 904-358-8091.
Resident loses pet; entire house floods
A resident of Windle Street in the New Town neighborhood is devastated after she lost her pet and her entire house was flooded Sunday.
The dog, MawMaw, was killed as a result of a fallen tree limb due to high winds. The family's other dog, Roxy, survived but was obviously missing her playmate Monday.
"The tree branch right here must have fallen through the wind that was blowing last night. She was trying to get away from it, got herself tangled up and must have drowned because of the water that was back here," Victoria Carter said. "I can't replace my dog. I can't. I don't know. I'm just lost for words. I don't understand why it happened, but it's God's nature. I wish I had been more prepared."
Carter, a mother of two, said she has no idea how long it will take her to clean the house or replace what she's lost.
"I want to cry, but I can't cry because crying isn't going to get anything done," Carter said. "It's just a lot of my kids' things are ... just totally ruined. I had to throw them away."
Carter said flooding has occurred on the premises before, but only through the first three or four rooms. However, this time the entire house flooded with standing water up to ankle height in the backyard.
A lot of items were destroyed -- personal belongings, equipment and children's toys.
"How am I going to explain to them their favorite T-shirt or their favorite pants or something that got messed up within the midst of the flood?" Carter asked.
Hundreds of people are coping with the aftermath of the flooding. Carter said she doesn't know what she plans to do, but she is looking for a place for her and her family to stay Monday night.
Standing water snarls Monday morning commute
Before dawn Monday, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office put out a list of dozen street and intersections that were closed by standing water. JSO never updated the list, but most roads reopened by late morning.
Monday afternoon, Stanley Street, parts of 15th Street and several streets behind Atlantic Beach Elementary School remained flooded. The school was accessible from the front of the building.
Public Works officials said a perfect storm led to the flooding. A nor'easter with high tide and 12 to 13 inches of rain. The Atlantic Beach drainage system could not handle it and retention ponds filled, leaving standing water in some areas.
Drivers were urged to use caution.
Flooding around Jacksonville