ST. CLOUD, Fla. – St. Cloud officials said Monday afternoon while they’ve seen some flooding relief across some parts of the city in the wake of Hurricane Ian, they’re not out of the woods yet as far as rising water levels go.
Voluntary evacuation orders were issued Tuesday for certain areas due to rising floodwaters, including Edgewater, Whisler Court, Turtle Creek, Oaktree Point, Chisholm Ridge, Hidden Oaks, Rummel-Rookery, Lake Runny Mead mobile home park and Ashton Place.
The city’s mayor, Nathan Blackwell, said they’ve been sending reverse 911 calls to about 3,250 residents who may be impacted by potential flooding expected to peak between Oct. 7-12, urging them to prepare if necessary.
“We may see additional streets flooding. We do not anticipate water reaching people’s homes, but we can’t rule that out,” Blackwell said at the Monday briefing. “And the reason why is because of modeling changes every day, and we are responding accordingly.”
Blackwell added that as of Monday afternoon, the following roads and areas are still closed: Commerce Center Drive from Walmart to Brown Chapel Road, the intersection of Old Canoe Creek Road and Commerce Center Drive, Blackberry Creek Drive from Commerce Center Drive to Creek Bed Circle, the Jade Isle MHC mobile home park and certain streets in Savanna Park.
This comes a day after the city announced voluntary evacuations due to flooding in Blackberry, Pemberly Pines, Summer Cove, Sugar Mill, St. Cloud Village, Soleil Blue, Jade Isle, Savannah Park, Edgewater and surrounding areas.
“Our highest priority this week is to do everything we can as a city and work with our partners at the South Florida Water Management District (and) the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to potentially head off and mitigate the flooding. We are already seeing improvements in some areas, but we are not out of the woods yet,” City Manager Veronica Miller said.
Miller said city officials saw water levels receding after pumping started in Savanna Park, plugs were installed near Canal 31 and the Second Street ditch, and the outflow vandalized north of East Toho, which caused subsequent flooding in St. Cloud, was closed.
Miller also said the city is seeing positive results from the things they have been doing to address the flooding over the past several days in the city.
“Streets in Savannah Park are open again and mostly dry after our pumping operations,” she said.
The city also received five additional high volume water pumps to alleviate flooding near Blackberry Creek Drive and the ponds along Lakeshore Boulevard.
“The Lakefront ponds are designed to hold and filter the runoff water from state streets and then pull it back into the lake,” Miller said.
But, she added, after Ian hit, the water from the lake began to flow into the ponds. City officials began working Monday to block the lake water flowing into the ponds and instead pump it back to the source.
A pet-friendly shelter is open at Osceola Heritage Park, a location also offering sandbags from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sandbag operations also resumed at the St. Cloud Civic Center from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
This comes after the Florida National Guard has been rescuing residents trapped in their homes by rising waters throughout Osceola County, including at Good Samaritan Society, a retirement community in Kissimmee Village.
Osceola County residents and businesses impacted by the storm can apply for federal assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration at disasterassistance.gov or disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/ela/s/.
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