Elsa’s downpours push area rivers above flood stage

Points along the St. Marys and Sante Fe rivers will rise through weekend

St. Marys River is out of its banks with runoff from Tropical Storm Elsa rainfall. (WJXT/Sky 4)

MACCLENNY, Fla. – The runoff of several inches of rain from Tropical Storm Elsa has pushed several rivers to flood stage or above. Some water levels are falling while others are still rising. Flood warnings are out for Alachua, Baker, Charlton, Columbia, Nassau and Union counties.

On Friday morning, the National Weather Service Hydrologic Prediction Service shows the St. Marys River near the border of Baker and Nassau counties was at 17 feet -- well into moderate flood stage -- and the highest since 2017. Downstream at Trader’s Hill, the river was 3 feet above flood stage and expected to continue to rise and remain above flood stage through the middle of next week.

Several points along the Santa Fe River report flooding, with the highest point near High Springs -- on the border of Alachua and Columbia counties -- where the river is 4 feet over flood stage and still rising.

Downriver near Fort White, the Sante Fe River is expected to continue to rise, reaching the major flooding threshold by Sunday. Many roads in the area will be impassable and some homes will be surrounded by water.

Santa Fe River floding inforgram

“In certain areas, it could be but again because of how wet it is it could be a factor and in particular down along the river areas,” said Columbia County Director of Emergency Management, Shayne Morgan told WJCB-TV in Gainesville. “Those areas are extremely wet and the rivers are higher than they have been so that’s also something we have to keep an eye on.”

Black Creek, which rose to 17.1 feet on Thursday -- a foot over flood stage -- had dropped nearly 2 feet by Friday morning and was expected to continue falling.

The New River near Lake Butler reported moderate flooding.

George Lomax, who has lived on the Santa Fe for 36 years, said this year is the first time he’s noticed the river at a high level before a storm.

“Because I’ve been through it before, I know what has to be moved,” Lomax told WCJB. “I always tell myself I shouldn’t have put that there because having to pick it back up again. It’s worth it. It’s worth it to live I mean look at this place.”

While Lomax said he can handle the river rising, flooded roads are still something to look out for in the area.