Heavy rains highlight rare flood concerns for Orange Park neighborhood

ORANGE PARK, Fla. – The recent high waters in Clay County have re-exposed an unusually vulnerable neighborhood — the Aquarius Concourse neighborhood in western Orange Park.

The backs of many homes in the neighborhood near Orange Park Mall are close to McGirts Creek, which is an offshoot of the Ortega River.

It doesn’t flood as often as Black Creek, also in Clay County, but it flooded during Hurricane Irma. That’s why locals are worried that it’s being discussed again.

Clay County Emergency Management officials said the biggest concern from the weekend rain was Aquarius Concourse.

Locals said flooding from Irma destroyed numerous homes, some of which are still vacant.

“It’s a big concern,” said resident Tracie Lee. “Thankfully, I’m up on this hill. But I’m concerned about my neighbors. Because all these houses flooded over and then it didn’t matter that it was storming. People were coming in and helping them to all the possessions that were around here.”

John Ward, Emergency Management Director, said a lot of the land between McGirts Creek and the neighborhood is federally protected including a bird sanctuary.

“I do not want to say it’s because of the bird sanctuary but I do know a lot of the property is protected back in there so there’s not a lot of mitigation that can be done back there when the creek does come out of its banks,” Ward said.

But Ward said the neighborhood hasn’t flooded very much. Prior to Irma, there hadn’t been major flooding in many years.

The county said its always working on improving drainage in neighborhoods, but in that case, much of the land is federally protected.

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