St. Johns River flooding near Astor recedes months after Hurricane Ian

Ian struck the Lake County town more than three months ago

ASTOR, Fla. – The National Weather Service is now reporting the St. Johns River near Astor in Lake County is out of its flood stage — more than three months after Hurricane Ian.

Along Claire Street in Astor, damage from both Hurricanes Ian and Nicole can still be seen. The sound of a saw pierces the air as people continue to recover.

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“We’ve been drying out,” Sandy Mackie said. “Drying out pretty nicely now, the floors... the house is fully dried out. We had to take all the sheetrock out.”

Mackie, who was cutting wood as part of her reconstruction efforts, says life has been getting better.

News 6 was there when Mackie’s street was submerged in water after Hurricane Ian swept through back in September. The water levels at that time could be seen reaching into homes.

Showing the inside of her home, Mackie said water rose up to 18 inches on the first floor after Ian, and it’s been a long road for the water to fully recede.

“We were down to 6 inches left when Nicole came, and then when Nicole came, it filled us right back up to the 18 inches we originally had,” Mackie said.

After more than 102 days, levels are set to stay down.

The National Weather Service sent out a tweet this past Tuesday saying the St. Johns River is now out of its flood stage.

And while that’s the good news, “The bad news is when we had an extended time of flooding like we’ve experienced over the last couple of months, there is impact from pollution,” said Lisa Rinaman.

Lisa Rinaman works with St. Johns Riverkeeper, an environmental advocacy organization focused on the river. She said that she’s now worried about the long-term impacts.

Rinaman said pollution can come from anywhere, including septic tanks and fertilizers in the ground.

“It can have impact to water quality of the river to as well as it can have impacts to wildlife habitats,” said Rinaman.

Rinaman said that as people get back on the river, they should watch and report any signs of pollution.

As for Mackie, she said Astor will continue to stand strong.

“We support each other and help each other, we got real good neighbors here,” said Mackie.

As a reminder, the last day to apply for any assistance from FEMA has been extended to Jan. 12.

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About the Author:

Brian Didlake joined the News 6 team as a reporter in March 2021.