Week in review: District working with communities impacted by Hurricane Irma

Robert Zammataro checking a bridge for damage after Hurricane Irma

District projects chief Robert Zammataro, a professional engineer, was part of a team supporting the city of Jacksonville’s recovery efforts by inspecting structures for Hurricane Irma damage.

District projects chief Robert Zammataro, a professional engineer, was part of a team supporting the city of Jacksonville’s recovery efforts by inspecting structures for Hurricane Irma damage.

PALATKA, Fla., Sept. 15, 2017 — Days after Hurricane Irma’s storm surge has receded, the St. Johns River and other water bodies continue to rise in many areas, causing flooding headaches for local governments and their residents. The St. Johns River Water Management District continues to mitigate flooding impacts in support of local emergency operations as communities work to recover and restore services.

The district continues to send its public works staff and portable pumps and generators to areas flooded by the storm. Staff are helping pump stormwater from the Malacompra Drive area in Flagler County, from Vilano Beach at Porpoise Point in St. Johns County and a site in Seminole County. Floodwater was pumped from an assisted living facility in Putnam County earlier this week, and district pumps helped remedy localized flooding in Hawthorne.

Some communities along the St. Johns River will see the river crest over the weekend and into next week as water flows downstream. Structures, such as locks, spillways, pump stations, levees and canals, in the headwaters of the St. Johns River in Brevard and Indian River counties and in the Harris Chain of Lakes in Lake County are the only controls the district has of water levels. The district is operating these control structures to manage water levels and offer flood relief to downstream communities.

In the Upper St. Johns River Basin, the district is working to reduce flows to the river to reduce downstream flooding. Since Monday afternoon, the district has released almost 7.2 billion gallons of river water through Canal 54 to the Indian River Lagoon. Another 5.8 billion gallons may be diverted before releases are discontinued early next week.

In the Ocklawaha Basin, to manage floodwaters and decrease potential for area flooding, flows from the Burrell Lock and Dam are being reduced to lower water levels in Haines Creek, and the Apopka Dam will be closed, limiting flows only to the Nutrient Reduction Facility.

Other district operations related to Hurricane Irma:

  • All district offices are now open for business.
  • Three teams conducted preliminary damage assessments in Jacksonville, which will help the city when seeking federal disaster assistance and freed up city staff to assist residents.
  • District staff are working with local law enforcement to provide adequate public safety on properties as the district works toward opening some conservation lands to the public. At this time, all district lands are closed, including the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. Also, Ralph E. Simmons Memorial State Forest’s archery season (Sept. 16–24) is closed due to extreme flooding and hazardous road conditions.
  • District regulatory staff are available to answer questions or issue emergency waivers to assist with the recovery effort. For assistance, please contact the Jacksonville Service Center at 904-730-6270 or 800-852-1562 or the district’s Palatka headquarters at 386-329-4500 or 800-451-7106.
  • Due to water damage to the Governing Board room at the district’s Palatka headquarters, the district’s September board meeting will be held on Sept. 19 at the Maitland Service Center, 601 South Lake Destiny Road, Suite 200, Maitland, FL  32751. The meeting begins at 4:30 p.m. and will be followed by the tentative millage and budget hearing at 5:05 p.m.
  • Other meeting dates and locations may have changed due to hurricane damage. Check out our meetings calendar at www.sjrwmd.com/meetings-announcements.

For continuing updates on district operations, visit the district’s website, www.sjrwmd.com.