JEA lifts boil water advisory for Ken Knight Drive area

Water main break slows recovery efforts along heavily-saturated Ken Knight Drive

Ken Knight homes flooded Thursday. (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4JAX - All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A boil water alert issued for hundreds of residents in the Ken Knight Drive area of Jacksonville’s Northside was lifted Saturday, JEA told News4JAX.

The alert was issued Thursday due to a water main break on Friden Drive West during Tropical Storm Nicole.

The water main leak was slowing down progress for residents along Ken Knight Drive whose homes were flooded during Nicole.

JEA said that large tree roots shifted underground during the storm, resulting in a 6-inch water main pump bursting, leading to additional floodwaters spilling into peoples’ homes.

JEA said the boil water advisory impacted less than 600 residents at Calloway Cove Apartments and neighboring streets, and as of Saturday, customers can resume using water for all uses.

Residents who had several feet of water in their homes Thursday were doing their best to clean up, with assistance from the American Red Cross.

RELATED: ‘I just don’t know what to do’: Multiple homes along Ken Knight Drive flood during Nicole

Melon Mayweather’s house, and dozens of others, still hadn’t completely dried out from the rising waters that were created by Nicole. Mayweather said she wishes she had purchased flood insurance.

She said she’s going to have to start over due to the extent of the water damage.

″It impacted me real bad,” Mayweather said. “...All my clothes — the water came through the washer and dryer, all my clothes are soaking wet.”

The American Red Cross is helping by passing out kits to help residents start the cleanup process, as well as bottles of water.

Local residents like Mike Smith said he hopes the city of Jacksonville will do more to get ahead of the flooding, which has been common occurrence following heavy rainfall or storms like Nicole.

Smith and other neighbors said they’d also like the city to consider installing a pump system similar to ones that pump floodwaters out of the San Marco neighborhood.

“Just because we are on the Northside and not in San Marco, there shouldn’t be a difference,” Smith said.

Photos from along Ken Knight Drive, which has dealt with flooding due to storm surge.

Furthermore, the Ribault River is a short distance away. Despite floodwaters subsiding during low tide, the swollen river still overflows during high tide.

“Your fighting mother nature,” homeowner William Dixon said. “Just makes it worse and worse and worse. You don’t who what to do.”

Damaged furniture must be replaced and damage to any part of the structure must be fixed. No one knows that better than homeowner Shane Lee. He was renovating a home before the flooding, hoping to have it ready for the next renter.

But now his workload has increased thanks to the recent flooding.

“It’s been a headache dealing with this water rising and the damage to the side of the brick. I must replace all that. Tracking all the water in and out is going to be one heck of a cleanup,” Lee said.

Unfortunately, many of the people living in homes along the river will have to go through it again because of high tide overnight.

Photos from along Ken Knight Drive, which has dealt with flooding due to storm surge.

People who have lived here for most of their lives say they can remember a time when the Ribault River was much wider than it is today, and flooding was less of an issue.

“The width and how deep it is, we don’t have it anymore,” Dixon said. “It needs to be trenched out, so the water has somewhere to go.”

“Seems like they should be able to do something with it,” renter Leroy Bradley told us. “Engineers or somebody to come out and figure out what to do about that.”

The city has previously offered to buy out some homes along the river. Many of the homeowners we spoke with said they’re older and have paid off their home loans, and they say the money being offered is not enough to purchase another home.

News4JAX on Friday requested comment from the city, to see if it would consider a water pumping system or explore the idea of dredging the Ribault River, should it help the situation. City offices were closed Friday in observance of the Veterans Day holiday, but the city later responded with the following email:

The temporary pump in San Marco is in place to assist a challenged drainage system. The pump at this location is able to assist the small drainage area that drains into this location.


At Ken Knight, the issue isn’t a challenged drainage system. The issue at Ken Knight is the fact that the Ribault River stages up several feet higher than private properties that abut the river itself. The river then flows into the area through backyards. A small temporary pump would be zero benefit to this issue.

Because of the above, the administration coordinates with JTA to transport our neighbors from Ken Knight to the Legends Center. We make this a priority.

Also, we have spent years working a federally supported program to buyout homes in this area that have impacts from weather events such as Tropical Storm Nicole. The problem is the vast majority of these homes are not owner occupants, they are renters and the owners are not interested in selling.

Photos from along Ken Knight Drive, which has dealt with flooding due to storm surge.

About the Authors:

Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.

Award-winning broadcast and multimedia journalist with 20 years experience.