GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – The North Prong of Black Creek entered its minor flood stage overnight after Sunday’s heavy rainfall, cresting at 17.4 feet by 10 a.m. Monday. National Weather Service projections show the water levels should begin to fall over the next 24 hours and be at 15.5 feet -- out of flood stage -- and continue falling.
“I would encourage residents to be cautious and be prepared to remove their RVs, their travel trailers, those type things,” Clay County Emergency Management Director John Ward warned Sunday afternoon. “We do have a concern because the geography of this area has changed. Since Hurricane Irma came through, we’ve had a lot of folks that are now still repairing and rebuilding from Hurricane Irma that are in temporary structures, travel trailers, those type things, so it wouldn’t take as much to flood that property out as what it would before with their elevated homes.”
RELATED When will waters recede?
Ward also talked about the McGirts Creek area based off of the Ortega River in Jacksonville, which was approaching moderate flood stage.
“This point for us is the area along Aquarius Concourse. We have a lot of homes that have flooded in the past off of this and we’re continually monitoring this area for any floodwater. We are noticing that the McGirts Creek is out of its banks, so we’re urging residents along Aquarius Concourse to monitor throughout the night,” Ward said.
News4Jax spoke with to residents of Aquarius Concourse who were checking on their properties. Some, including Tracie Lee, were lowering the level of their swimming pools in preparation for standing water.
“So when the big hurricane came I had just purchased my house and McGirts creek is right behind here. It came over like 6 foot at least and flooded all these houses. And [the] road was flooded. I had a big old truck at the time [and] had to park it at the other end of the drive. And way down there the army came in and helped people out because it was that flooded,” Lee said.
Ward said they expect Black Creek to be back to normal operating areas by Monday evening or into Tuesday morning.
“(Sunday) evening, it was just up to under the dock,” Scenic Drive resident Colin Barton said Monday morning. “Less than 24 hours later, that dock is completely submerged. Hopefully, it don’t get any higher.”
Like most homes built along this waterway known to flood, Barton’s home is built well above all but the highest floods. His house is 18 feet in the air, so they don’t need to do anything to protect their homes, but they do need to move vehicles, campers and anything else on the property.
“A lot of people it happens to and they will park up by the road. That way they can get out,” Barton said.
Occasional flooding is something people in the area expect and are prepared to deal with.
“All the neighbors come around and help each other out,” resident Justin Poynter said. “It’s part of being on Black Creek. We love it.”
Lon Poppell and his wife have rebuilt the first floor of their home since Irma came through.
But many residents are still rebuilding and forced to live in RV’s and camper trailers.
“Well, they’re just rebuilding their homes,” Poppell said. “The guy next door, he just got done. It took him two or three years ever since Irma to get back into their homes.”
The shift in living conditions along Black Creek for many residents is why Clay County Emergency Management was quick to put out flooding alerts this weekend.
Ward said this flooding is not bad as it could have been because it has been dry lately.
“Had we already been in a flooding or a higher-end, this could have potentially caused issues for our residents and our interest along Black Creek,” Ward said.
Ward on Sunday encouraged residents along McGirts Creek and Aquaris Concourse to pay close attention, monitor the county’s social media pages and call 904-284-7703 if they have any issues.