PALATKA, Fla., Sept. 8, 2017 — As Hurricane Irma approaches Florida this weekend, the St. Johns River Water Management District reminds property owners to be prepared for heavy rains by cleaning debris from storm drains and reporting clogged ditches to local governments in advance of the storm. The public also is encouraged to bookmark flooding information, water levels and other resources found on the district’s website at www.sjrwmd.com/localgovernments/flooding/.
“Prepare now for the effects of Hurricane Irma and make good decisions for your family’s safety,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “As you do, our website is an excellent resource for information and links to flood statements and warnings, river stages, and local government emergency contacts. Meantime, district staff stand ready to assist each other and are prepared to assist our local government partners and other regional and state agencies as needed.”
Local governments are the primary entities responsible for emergency responses during storms, such as implementing state-of-emergency declarations, evacuations and rescue
efforts during flood-related disasters. The district may assist local governments in their recovery efforts by providing pumps and personnel to lower floodwaters and assess damage from the storm.
With the storm quickly approaching, the district urges property owners to take precautions and to prepare for the likelihood of significant flooding and other impacts. Homeowners can prepare their properties for heavy rains by:
· Keeping debris out of storm drains and ditches;
· Reporting clogged ditches to local governments;
· Cleaning out gutters and extending downspouts at least four feet from structures; and
· Building up the ground around the home to promote drainage away from the foundation.
Here is a summary of the district’s current status:
· Effective Thursday evening, all district lands closed to public access and recreation. They will remain closed until the staff have time to assess and clean up properties after the storm. For information about district operations, visit www.sjrwmd.com.
· All district offices are closed Friday for storm preparation. Depending on the storm’s impacts, further closures may be necessary and will be posted on the district’s website.
· Several public meetings originally set for early next week, including the September Governing Board meeting, have been postponed. The Governing Board meeting is rescheduled for 4:30 p.m., Sept. 19, followed by the tentative Fiscal Year 2017-2018 millage and budget hearing at 5:05 p.m.
· Water storage is available in both the Upper St. Johns River and Upper Ocklawaha River. Structures, such as locks, spillways, pump stations, levees and canals, in the headwaters of the St. Johns River in Brevard and Indian River counties and in the Harris Chain of Lakes in Lake County are the only controls the district has of water levels.