GENEVA, Fla. – While Seminole County officials said they are still seeing an increase in the historic floodwaters brought about after Hurricane Ian, many areas are starting to level off as of Monday afternoon.
Emergency officials warned some families remain in response mode as the water continues to rise. In Geneva, near Lake Harney, floodwaters have covered streets and rushed into homes.
The lake is close to the St. Johns River, which has reached record flood stage for the St. John’s River above Lake Harney area. Families have watched the water extend farther inland through the weekend.
At Lake Harney Road, near N. Jungle Road, the lakefront begins before the pavement ends. John Carter and Bob Boulanger need a boat to get to their homes on nearby Whitcomb Drive.
“I was parked here a little bit on the corner (showing area near N. Jungle Rd) and I drove out yesterday,” Boulanger said. “It was the last car out though.”
Boulanger and Carter waded out into knee high waters to show News 6 the impact of Ian up close. As the pair escorted our crew through the streets, the water quickly rose chest high. The corner where Lake Harney Road meets Whitcomb Drive is the deepest, they said.
“We’re at the deep end,” Boulanger said. “I think these first three houses, four houses are all flooded. The rest are just getting flooded.”
Boulanger said his next door neighbors had to be rescued by the National Guard and first responders in Seminole County Saturday. Some homeowners in the area did not have water intrude their houses until the weekend.
“I left last night because my wife was pretty worried,” he said. “If anybody is still out here, I imagine it’s only one or two families.”
Boulanger and Carter say some homes that were built more recently have been better off.
“There was a young couple evacuating, they were in an older fish camp kind of house like mine that was built on grade rather than up on stilts,” Carter said. “Some people have water, maybe up to the upper door jam. Where as me yesterday, my porch was still dry, but now it’s probably a foot under water.”
Out in Geneva, measurements are comparisons to past storms, like Hurricane Irma that hit in 2017.
“It was about six months during Irma that the whole place suffered,” he said. “Now, the water wasn’t up to here (pointing to water at chest height) but it was hard to get in and out. I was probably thigh high during Irma.”
Mailboxes, close to being covered by water, help mark the way along Whitcomb Drive. Both Boulanger and Carter’s driveways are completely under water.
“I was able to keep it, not all the way, but keep it at a level until it came in the front door. Once it came in and it crossed the house, they met. That was it,” said Boulanger.
Boulanger’s front door is now a window to the wreckage. Once inside, items he has tried to save are now stacked high on tables and counters. His living room has at least 2 feet of water in it. It rises above the windowsills and flows between his backyard, home, driveway, and street.
“We’re hoping and praying that we’re at the peak now or close enough where it’s only another inch or two,” Carter said.
Beyond the house, the dock is well under water. Both men say they will do what they can to save the remaining structures, despite the damage already. It’s a sentiment shared by most in this community who are willing to wait it out and hope for the best.
“I think my wife and I are different extremes,” Boulanger said. “She is completely distraught and I’m trying to stay optimistic. Optimistic about what at this point, I don’t know. We can’t save it, right? We’ll just rebuild like everybody else.”
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