Devastation hits Black Creek residents

Hundreds forced out by flood waters

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CLAY COUNTY, Fla. - Tuesday was a mad rush for hundreds of residents along Black Creek to grab belongings and get out. On Wednesday, many of those residents were going back, trying to go home to get more stuff.

It was the first time they saw just how bad the damage was and realizing how much they've lost.

"I've seen bunches of tears, lots of tears the last two days," said Chad Mullen, who was helping people affected by the flooding.

Homes were under water, cars and boats were stuck, and people were left with little-to-no belongings. The record flooding along Black Creek caused devastation for hundreds of residents.

"I walked in the house and it was sad. Everything you've had forever is ruined," resident John Quillan said.

Residents had no choice but to get creative, using golf carts, four-wheelers and canoes to salvage anything they could from their flooded homes.

"We were scooping water out the window," said Audrey Frier, whose home flooded. "First we used a Wet/Dry Vac and we were carrying it up and dumping it in the tub, and the water just kept coming up so fast."

The Frier family went back Wednesday afternoon to get medication and more clothes, but the closest they could get to their house was about a half-mile away down Lazy Acre Road, which was completely flooded.

"As we transition from the response mode into the recovery mode, we will be working on extensive damage assessments to come up with totals and find where those impacts are," Clay County Fire-Rescue Chief Lorin Mock said.

He said he knows 200 homes have been affected by the high water, and he estimates there's at least another 300.

"You can see everybody's stuff is ruined," Mullen said. "I've got one of my best friends that's trapped in her house with her father-in-law, and he's sick and in a wheelchair. We can't even get him out of the house right now, so it's pretty sad."

The Fire Department and Clay County Sheriff's Office has rescued 90 people from Black Creek with the help of Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department's swift water rescue team.

They're also encouraging people to take at least four days worth of belongings, because once they help them out, they will not bring people back to their houses and they don't expect the water to recede any sooner.

A Red Cross shelter was open Wednesday at Clay High School at 1913 Darden Road.

Residents needing assistance can call the Clay County Emergency Operations hotline at 904-284-7703.

Flooding brings in animals

The Safe shelter in Middleburg is seeing an influx of residents because of the flooding, many of which weren't meant to be housed by Barbara Sprague and her staff.

"We have scorpions and all kinds of leeches and minnows swimming in our kennels. We have fish swimming in the parking lot and there's gators all around here, too," she said.

Floodwaters from the Black Creek crept into the drains along the kennels on Wednesday. Overflow from the retention pool also made its way inside.

Safe volunteers had to rush to get the dogs and cats out.

"The little ones we had to carry and the big ones were just up to their legs, their bellies were touching the water," said Menoka Bernardo.

None of the animals were injured. They were sent to other Clay County shelters and rescues until the water recedes enough for the Safe staff to clean up and move them back in.

Sprague said the community has already stepped up to help.

"We've had porta pottys delivered, dumpsters, and sandbags and anything and everything that we can possibly use help the pets out," she said.

Sprague holes they will be reopened by Thursday afternoon. She said the waters had begun receding late Wednesday, leaving behind a wet mess.

"There's probably going to be some medical issues for the cats and dogs, too, so people can donate to our medical fund. Kitten chow, dog food, scoopable litter we would most appreciate," she said.

Click here to learn how to donate.

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