Flooding of St. Marys River a concern for Baker County officials

River was at 11.7 feet Wednesday afternoon, just shy of flood stage; expected to crest at 14.9 feet

Emergency management officials in Baker County are closely monitoring rising levels on the St. Marys River and nearby creeks Wednesday, which were just shy of flood stage. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

MACCLENNY, Fla. – As Tropical Storm Elsa swept across North Florida on Wednesday, emergency management officials in Baker County kept a close eye on rising water levels in Cedar Creek, which feeds into the St. Marys River.

The water level along the creek, located along County Road 125, rose eight inches over the course of two hours from 2 to 4 p.m., according to a News4Jax crew stationed in Baker County. The concern for officials is that the area and nearby roads could flood by the weekend.

A Flood Warning issued by the National Weather Service remained in effect Wednesday afternoon for the St. Marys River near Macclenny. The river was at 11.7 feet, just shy of the 12-foot flood stage, but the NWS expects it to rise to a crest of 14.9 feet by the evening.

RELATED: ‘This is Florida. This is how you live’: Baker County residents prepare for Elsa

It’s not just officials who are concerned. Residents who live near St. Mary’s Cove, north of Macclenny, worry the rising waters could bring the same kind of flooding they’ve seen with bad weather in years past.

“The last time we had a bad storm, I’ve seen water get all the way to the first curve and this be completely underwater,” Brandy Milton, who lives in the area, told News4Jax. “It happens pretty quickly, really.”

Besides flooding, there were scattered reports of storm damage and power outages throughout Baker County.

According to a preliminary damage report from the Weather Service, gusts spawned by Elsa snapped the base of a small hardwood tree near Chad and Woodlawn roads. The storm also downed trees in Macclenny and toppled a tree on State Road 228 near Maxville.

A News4Jax crew noted that residents were contending with intermittent winds and rain that fell nonstop throughout the day. At one point, gusts brought down tree limbs and branches near the crew, forcing them to take shelter from the elements inside their news vehicle.

John Blanchard, director of emergency management for the Baker County Sheriff’s Office, said officials are monitoring water levels in the area, but they expect the creeks to rise and crest with the potential to cause flooding throughout the county by the end of the week.

Residents who live near Cedar Creek told News4Jax they wouldn’t be surprised to see flood waters reach County Road 125 by Thursday.

“It’ll be waist deep right here,” Gene Taylor said. “If it keeps raining the way it is, probably by the morning. It’ll rise, coming this way.”

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