San Marco couple survives Hurricane Irma flooding

Couple forced to flee River Road home after St. Johns River overflows

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A San Marco couple shared a harrowing story with News4Jax, saying they're lucky to be alive after fleeing their flooded home during Hurricane Irma.

They said they're likely to be without a place to live for weeks.

Video footage along the St. Johns River in the aftermath of Irma showed the river breaching its banks and flooding into homes and businesses along the riverfront – including the River Road home of Greg Looney and his girlfriend.

News4Jax was with Looney Thursday when he went back into his home, where everything was dried out, but many of the couple's possessions were ruined.

“We took the rugs and everything we thought was of any value and tried to get it as high as we could, obviously couldn’t get everything,” Looney said. “This is the hot water heater area. Obviously, when the water came in, it flooded, popped these things up and broke a pipe, which only added to the water.”

The highwater mark left on Looney's home was about 5 feet high, much higher than it was after Hurricane Matthew last fall. Looney said knowing what happened during Matthew was one reason he didn't take Irma seriously enough until it was almost too late.

“I never really thought about it until Matthew, and then after Matthew I thought we were going to be safe, not an issue,” Looney said.

Looney and his girlfriend chose not to evacuate – until the floodwaters from the river gave them no choice. They hiked about a half-mile in waist-deep water, carrying backpacks.

They said they didn't think about the big square gray electrical boxes along the sidewalks until later – when they realized the could have been killed trekking through the flood.

Power won't be restored to Looney's home anytime soon, because all the power boxes and water pumps in the basement were flooded.

His car is also not drivable after water flooded it up to the steering wheel.

But Looney said in the end he’s just happy he and his girlfriend survived.

Looney said if they can wait out the repairs, he and his girlfriend will stay in the waterfront property, because he thinks after Irma it won’t flood that bad again for quite awhile.

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