Floodwaters encroach on downtown Sanford as Lake Monroe rises after Hurricane Ian

Lake Monroe not expected to crest until Thursday or Friday

Sections of the riverwalk in Downtown Sanford are flooded after Hurricane Ian.

SANFORD, Fla. – Sections of the riverwalk in Downtown Sanford are flooded after Hurricane Ian. The water from Lake Monroe washed up over the sea wall, across parts of Seminole Boulevard, and into parking lots and parks.

Seminole County Emergency Management expects the water will continue to rise in this part of the county before the St. Johns River at Lake Monroe crests Thursday or Friday.

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County officials added Lake Harney has already crested and Lake Jesup crested on Wednesday as the Little Wekiva River continues to recede.

“Based on what we saw this morning, maybe an inch to three inches more at the Sanford downtown area, and then it will start to go down,” said Alan Harris, chief administrator at Seminole County Emergency Management.

The rising water has businesses bracing for the worst-case scenario, days after the storm.

Alfredo Colimodio, the owner of Sanford Pizza Company, says the water has reached his doorstep near Seminole Boulevard and Palmetto Avenue.

“I have never seen it like this,” said Colimodio. “Two more days of this and I’ll have water inside the building.”

His cooler, which sits in the parking lot behind his restaurant, is already flooded. On Wednesday, he walked the News 6 crew through the water to showcase the impact on his business and others in the area.

It’s a similar scene down Palmetto Avenue, where the owner of the U-Sail of Central Florida sailing school says her business could be closed for weeks, even months.

“You can’t see the seawall,” said Captain DJ McCabe. “I couldn’t even take a boat out if I wanted to.”

McCabe says she built up her business after Tropical Storm Fay and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. All of that hard work was put on pause overnight.

“It looks like a giant hand picked up my building and shook it really hard while throwing water in it,” said McCabe. “I’m just crossing my fingers that I can hang on.”

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Officials with Seminole County Emergency Management say flooding continues to go up in certain areas. The St. Johns River at Lake Monroe is right at record flood level, around 8.5 feet. Flood stage is 5.5 feet.

The county evacuated the Marina Isle Waterfront Assisted Living facility Tuesday as a precaution. The residents were taken to a facility in Tavares.

“Their building itself is actually high and dry. Their generators are high and dry. The problem was getting in and out of the structure,” said Harris. “The road was too low. The power infrastructure was too low. So, it just wasn’t safe.”

People choosing to visit the waterfront have some access. The city of Sanford continues to build up part of Palmetto Avenue with pieces of asphalt so cars can drive in and out.

Alfredo Colimodio is using the access he has to run the remaining food from his restaurant to first responders, free of charge. Until the water recedes, he is stuck waiting and wondering if his business will make it through.

“There’s no income coming in. I’m going to try to keep our full-time employees. There’s nothing else I can do,” said Colimodio.

About the Author:

Catherine, born and raised in Central Florida, joined News 6 in April 2022.