Drivers need rescuing after rain causes flooding in Orange County

Fire rescue assists 6 vehicles in flooded streets

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter, ClickOrlando Staff

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Orange County Fire Rescue helped drivers Wednesday afternoon who became stranded due to flooding near Englewood Park.

Engine 81 responded to Ensenada Drive and El Prado Avenue, where heavy rain created flooding, fire rescue officials said.

Orange County Fire Rescue Public Information Officer Mike Jachles said nine people were rescued from six vehicles, including a woman and her young son, who was believed to be 3 to 4 years old. The driver of an SUV was also among the rescued, Jachles said. No one was injured.

Due to the flooding, residents who live in the Rio Pinar neighborhood parked their cars and walked home.

"It was just coming down like crazy," said Orlando radio personality Carlos Navarro, whose car was one of those that got stuck in the floodwaters. "It was coming inside. My daughter was freaking out, and I was not freaking out, but I’m like -- I didn’t know what to do. I called 911, and they’re like, 'just get out of the car.'" 

The flooding was just south of Lake Underhill Drive. Up to 3 inches of rain fell in the area Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

For perspective, Jachles said Lt. Ryan Williams, who is about 6 feet tall, was waist-deep in the water while rescuing the occupants of the vehicles.

Officials from Orange County said all drainage systems were clear and flowing without obstruction at the time of the flooding. They believe the systems were overwhelmed by such a large amount of rain in a short period of time.

Jachles said he doesn't believe crews have been called to that specific intersection for rescues before but that they have responded to other nearby areas for flooding. He said it depends which areas get the highest volume of rain and how saturated the ground is after long periods of rainfall.

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"We complain to the commissioners about this every year," said Jake Jacobson, who lives just steps away from the intersection that flooded.

Orange County leaders told News 6 they were researching to find out what has been done about the problem of flooding in this neighborhood, and what else can be done.

A significant weather advisory was in effect for Orange County until 3:35 p.m. Torrential rain, gusty winds and frequent lightning led to flooding east of Orlando. The storm was moving northeast into Seminole and Brevard counties. Strong storms were also impacting Volusia County Wednesday afternoon.

Orlando police were also called to help drivers stranded in flooded roads Wednesday. A driver near Colonial Drive and Fashion Square Mall was helped by an officer after the water became too high at the intersection.

Storms are expected to die down Wednesday night and then return Thursday morning and especially in the afternoon, according to News 6 meteorologist Samara Cokinos.

Jachles urged drivers to be aware of the dangers of driving through flooded areas.

“When you’re driving in the rain and you start to see roads flooded out, you really should not drive through water like that," Jachles said. "You don’t know how deep it is, and it doesn’t take much water to flood out your car or short out your electrical system, as was the case Wednesday afternoon.”

Jachles reminded drivers to use their windshield wipers, turn their headlights on and adjust their speed accordingly when traveling in wet weather. Always give yourself enough room to stop, he recommended.

He also encouraged drivers to stay off the roads if they don't feel comfortable driving in wet weather.

"If you’re not comfortable driving, get to a safe area where you can pull off and let the rain, let the storm pass," Jachles said.

Check back for updates on this developing story.


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