Flooding, hurricane information

Flooding in downtown Sanford Florida after Tropical Storm Fay

Water is a year-round focus for the water management district. When hurricanes and other storms bring unusually high amounts of rain in a short amount of time, flooding can result. It is a natural condition for our state, but a condition that can have serious implications for Florida’s residents. Partnerships between individuals and govern­ment entities are necessary to minimize flooding impacts, protect personal property and assist flood victims during and after storm events.

If you are experiencing flooding, your first contact should be your local government.

Local government contacts

CountyCityOffice or DepartmentPhonePhone2
AlachuaCountywidePublic Works352-374-5245, Ext. 1215
AlachuaGainesvillePublic Works352-334-5072
AlachuaHawthorneCity Manager352-481-2432
AlachuaMicanopyTown Administrator352-466-3121
BakerCountywideRoad Department904-275-2373
BakerGlen St. MaryTown Clerk904-259-3777
BakerMacclennyCity Hall904-259-6261
BradfordCountywideRoad and Bridge904-966-6243
BrevardCountywideRoad and Bridge (north)321-264-5084321-633-2056
BrevardCountywideRoad and Bridge (central)321-455-1389321-633-2056
BrevardCountywideRoad and Bridge (south)321-255-4310321-633-2056
BrevardCape CanaveralPublic Works321-868-1240321-641-1193
BrevardCocoaUtilities321-433-8400
BrevardCocoaPublic Works321-433-8770
BrevardCocoa BeachStormwater Department321-868-3292
BrevardIndialanticPublic Works321-984-5224
BrevardIndian Harbour BeachPublic Works321-773-3181, Ext. 139
BrevardMalabarTown Hall321-727-7764
BrevardMelbourneStreets and Stormwater321-953-6231321-255-4622
BrevardMelbourne BeachPublic Works321-724-5860321-286-6125
BrevardMelbourne VillageBuilding Department321-723-8300
BrevardPalm BayPublic Works321-952-3438
BrevardPalm ShoresTown Hall321-242-4555
BrevardRockledgePublic Works321-221-7540
BrevardSatellite BeachPublic Works321-777-2309321-773-4400
BrevardTitusvilleStormwater321-383-57981-888-399-1327
BrevardWest MelbournePublic Works321-727-3710321-261-1766
ClayClay CountyPublic Works904-284-6335
ClayGreen Cove SpringsPublic Works904-297-7500, Ext. 2213
ClayKeystone HeightsCity Hall352-473-4807
ClayOrange ParkPublic Works904-264-5555904-264-7411
ClayPenney FarmsTown Hall904-529-9078
DuvalAtlantic BeachPublic Works904-247-5834
DuvalBaldwinPublic Works904-635-5955
DuvalJacksonvillePublic Works904-630-2489 (CITY)
DuvalJacksonville BeachPublic Works904-247-6219
DuvalNeptune BeachPublic Works904-270-2400, Ext. 31
FlaglerCountywidePublic Works386-313-4136
FlaglerBeverly BeachTown Clerk386-439-6888
FlaglerBunnellPublic Works386-437-7515
FlaglerFlagler BeachCity Hall386-517-2000
FlaglerMarinelandMayor904-461-4005
FlaglerPalm CoastCustomer Service386-986-2360
Indian RiverCountywideRoad and Bridge772-770-5085772-231-7176
Indian RiverFellsmerePublic Works772-646-6316772-413-1675
Indian RiverIndian River ShoresTown Manager772-231-1771
Indian RiverOrchidTown Manager772-581-2770
Indian RiverSebastianStorm Water772-228-7052772-589-5537
Indian RiverVero BeachPublic Works772-978-4800
LakeCountywideRoad and Bridge352-343-6439
LakeAstatulaCity Clerk352-742-1100
LakeClermontPublic Services352-394-7177
LakeEustisPublic Works352-357-2414
LakeFruitland ParkCity Hall352-360-6727
LakeGrovelandStreet Department352-429-2438
LakeHowey-in-the-HillsPublic Works352-516-1346
LakeLady LakePublic Works352-751-1526
LakeLeesburgPublic Works352-435-9442
LakeMascottePublic Services352-429-4429
LakeMinneolaPublic Works352-516-3929
LakeMontverdeCity Clerk407-469-2681
LakeMount DoraPublic Works352-735-7151
LakeTavaresStormwater352-742-6300
LakeUmatillaPublic Works352-669-1539
MarionCountywidePublic Works352-671-8686
MarionCountywideEmergency352-369-8100
MarionBelleviewPublic Works352-245-7021
MarionMcIntoshTown Clerk352-591-1047
MarionOcalaPublic Works352-351-6733
MarionReddickTown Clerk352-591-4095
NassauNassau CountyPublic Works904-530-6225
NassauCallahanWater and Sewer904-879-3801
NassauFernandina BeachCity Clerk904-310-3115
NassauHilliardPublic Works904-845-2711
OrangeCountywideCitizens Response Center311
OrangeApopkaEngineering407-703-1718
OrangeBelle Isle407-851-7730
OrangeEatonville407-623-8900
OrangeEdgewoodCity Hall407-851-2920
OrangeMaitlandPublic Works407-539-6252
OrangeOaklandPublic Works407-656-1117
OrangeOcoeeEmergency Operations Center407-905-3100
OrangeOrlandoStreets and Drainage407-246-2238
OrangeWinter GardenPublic Services407-656-4111
OrangeWinter ParkPublic Works407-599-3219
OsceolaOsceola CountyRoad and Bridge407-742-7500
OkeechobeeCountywideEmergency Management863-763-3212
PutnamCountywidePublic Works386-329-0346
PutnamCountywideEmergency Management386-326-2793
PutnamCrescent CityCity Manager386-698-2525, Ext. 246
PutnamInterlachenCity Clerk386-684-3811
PutnamPalatkaPlanning and Zoning386-329-0107
PutnamPomona ParkTown Clerk386-649-4902
PutnamWelakaTown Clerk386-467-9800
SeminoleCountywideRoads Stormwater Management407-665-7623
SeminoleAltamonte SpringsPublic Works407-571-8340
SeminoleCasselberryPublic Works407-262-7725, Ext. 5
SeminoleLake MaryPublic Works407-585-1452
SeminoleLongwoodPublic Works407-263-2382
SeminoleAfter hours: CountywideEmergency407-339-1297
SeminoleOviedoPublic Works Operations407-971-5682
SeminoleSanfordPublic Works407-688-5080
SeminoleWinter SpringsPublic Works407-327-2669
St. JohnsCountywideRoad and Bridge904-209-0266
St. JohnsSt. AugustinePublic Works904-825-1040
St. JohnsSt. Augustine BeachPublic Works904-471-1119
VolusiaVolusia CountyRoad and Bridge386-822-6422
VolusiaDaytona BeachUtilities386-671-8815
VolusiaDaytona Beach ShoresCommunity Services386-763-5371386-763-5321
VolusiaDeBaryPublic Works386-601-0208
VolusiaDeLandPublic Works386-626-7190
VolusiaDeltonaPublic Works386-878-8950386-860-7177
VolusiaEdgewaterPublic Works386-424-2400 Ext. 4007
VolusiaHolly HillPublic Works386-248-9463
VolusiaLake Helen386-228-2121
VolusiaNew Smyrna BeachPublic Works386-424-2202386-424-2000
VolusiaOak HillCity Clerk386-345-3522
VolusiaOrange City386-736-5999
VolusiaAfter hours: CountywideSheriff’s Office386-736-5999
VolusiaEmergenciesEmergencies386-804-2923
VolusiaOrmond BeachPublic Works386-676-3238 Option 3
VolusiaPierson386-736-5999
VolusiaPonce InletPublic Works386-322-6729386-547-1954
VolusiaPort OrangePublic Works386-506-5607
VolusiaSouth DaytonaPublic Works386-322-3080386-322-3022

State and national contacts

American Red Cross redcross.org
Alachua County 352-376-4669
Baker, Bradford, Clay, Duval, Nassau and Putnam counties 904-358-8091
Brevard County 321-890-1002
Flagler, Lake, Marion and Volusia counties 386-226-1400
Indian River County 772-562-2549
Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties 407-894-4141
St. Johns County 904-797-3851
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) fema.gov
Disaster assistance 800-462-9029
Floodplain maps (fee charged) 877-336-2627
National Flood Insurance Program 888-356-6329
Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) – Division of Water Resource Management www.dep.state.fl.us 850-245-8336
Florida Division of Emergency Management floridadisaster.org 850-413-9969
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) noaa.gov
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) www.usace.army.mil 904-232-1697
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) usgs.gov 888-275-8747
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) epa.gov 800-241-1754

Frequently asked questions

With hurricane season and Florida’s wettest time of year in full swing, being proactive is essential to identify and correct potential flood problems before they occur. Long-term flood protection requires individuals and government at all levels to focus on planning, stormwater system design and maintenance, floodplain and wetland restoration, and problem drainage areas.

Who do I call if my home is experiencing flooding from a storm or natural disaster?

Local governments bear much of the responsibility when it comes to flood protection. They are the primary agencies responsible for state-of-emergency declarations, evacuations and rescue efforts during flood-related disasters. They also have the primary responsibility of ensuring that ditches and canals are adequate, clean and functioning properly.

Your local government is responsible for:

  • Emergency responses during storms
  • Land use planning
  • Maintaining stormwater/drainage systems
  • Implementing a master stormwater plan for solving flooding
  • Implementing stormwater retrofit projects in older communities that were built prior to stormwater rules
  • Adopting local laws that focus on building and road elevations, setbacks from waterbodies, fill limitations, sanitary codes and structures allowed in floodplains.
What is the St. Johns River Water Management District’s role in flood protection?
  • Working with local governments and other agencies before, during and after a flood event.
  • Operating and maintaining more than 100 major and minor water control structures, including 11 spillways, three navigational locks, approximately 300 miles of levees, and 30 pump stations.
  • Restoring wetlands and floodplain areas that provide flood water storage.
  • Ensuring, through its permitting program, that storm water is managed on development sites and that new drainage ditches or significant changes to existing ditches are coordinated regionally.
  • Along with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, issuing permits to install stormwater systems (but it is often the responsibility of a developer or homeowners association to maintain the systems).
  • Assisting local governments in emergency response during disasters, when called upon.
How do stormwater ponds help reduce flooding impacts?

Stormwater systems, like natural ponds or wetlands, help control flooding by slowing down surges and absorbing rainwater before it reaches water bodies. They also help filter out nutrients and sediments collected by storm water as it runs over the earth’s surface before pollutants can reach fragile waterways.

Who is responsible for maintaining my neighborhood stormwater pond?

Maintenance of private stormwater systems permitted by the district or the Florida Department of Environmental Protection may be the responsibility of a developer or homeowners association. You can find out by contacting your local Property Appraiser or visit the Property Appraiser website and find the parcel and its owner.

What can I do to reduce the effects of flooding at home?
  • Report clogged culverts or slow-moving water in ditches to your local government to allow adequate time for maintenance or repairs before a storm.
  • Report flooding to your local government.
  • Keep grass clippings and other debris out of stormwater drainage systems to prevent clogging and loss of stormwater storage and treatment capacity.
  • Clean out gutters and extend downspouts at least four feet from structures.
  • Build up the ground around the home to promote drainage away from the foundation.

Also, potential homebuyers should investigate whether a prospective property — house or undeveloped land — is in a floodplain or flood-prone area. Although building codes and stormwater permits may require that a house be built above flood level, flooding can still be a threat to driveways, subdivision roads, septic tanks and common recreational areas.

Lakes and waterways naturally rise and fall depending on rainfall and other conditions. Homes and businesses in flood-prone areas can be retrofitted to minimize future flood damage. Retrofitting can include making a building watertight, elevating the building and utilities, or constructing barriers.

Can the district control water levels for flood relief?

While the district operates flood-control structures in the Upper Ocklawaha River Basin and restored St. Johns River headwaters marshes used for water storage, the district does not control water levels in the St. Johns River.

Does the Upper St. Johns River Basin (USJRB) Project provide flood protection in the region?

The USJRB Project at the river’s headwaters was planned to control flooding on the St. Johns River in Osceola, Brevard and Indian River counties following a devastating flood in the 1940s. The upper basin project has proven itself several times over the past two decades, recently protecting the region from flooding during hurricanes Matthew in 2016 and Irma in 2017, as well as the historic and during unprecedented 2004 hurricane season.

Does the USJRB Project provide flood relief for central Florida and areas north?

The upper basin project does not reduce flooding in the river’s middle basin in east-central Florida, including Lake Monroe, or further north in the river’s lower basin in north Florida. This is because tributaries such as the Econlockhatchee River drain much more water to the middle St. Johns River than the amount that can be drained from the headwaters at C-54 canal. For example, flow out of the Econlockhatchee River has been measured at more than 10,000 cfs, and this is only one of several tributaries of the middle St. Johns River. Also, middle basin tributaries do not have comparable flood control facilities as are used in the upper basin. In north Florida (the lower basin), flooding in the Jacksonville area is often related to increased tidal flow from the Atlantic Ocean, added to copious rainfall.

Does Canal 54 (C-54) control flooding in the Upper St. Johns River Basin?

As part of the original upper basin project, C-54 discharged directly from the St. Johns River to the Indian River Lagoon. Now, C-54 is no longer directly connected to the St. Johns River, but instead serves only as an emergency overflow for the St. Johns Water Management Area to ensure that extreme flood events do not overtop the flood protection levees.

In recent years, was C-54 opened to reduce flooding in the district’s southern region?

During Hurricane Irma and the subsequent nor’easter, (September – October 2017), a foot of rain fell over the St. Johns River’s upper basin over a 30-day period. Discharges up to 2,200 cubic feet per second (cfs) were made through the C-54 canal over a period of 11 days following the hurricane, and an additional seven days following the subsequent nor’easter. This resulted in a diversion of nearly 15 billion gallons of water away from the St. Johns River.

During Hurricane Matthew (October 2016), nearly three inches of rain fell over the upper basin project over a two-week period. Discharges up to 1,300 cfs were made through the C-54 canal for nine days. This resulted in a diversion of nearly six billion gallons of water away from the St. Johns River.

Does C-54 provide flood relief for central Florida and northern areas?

Contrary to popular belief, the use of C-54 to release water from the headwaters of the St. Johns River provides no measurable flood relief to the middle basin in east-central Florida or areas north, such as Jacksonville. Downstream of the upper basin project area, flood levels are reduced only as far north as Lake Poinsett in Brevard County.

Flooding issues

Extreme rainfall can cause rivers and streams — such as the north-flowing, 310-mile-long St. Johns River — to surge beyond their banks, damaging homes and businesses. While the St. Johns River Water Management District operates flood-control structures in the Upper Ocklawaha River Basin — the Apopka-Beauclair Lock and Dam, Apopka Dam, Moss Bluff Dam and the Burrell Dam — and restored St. Johns River headwaters marshes used for water storage, the district does not control water levels in the St. Johns River.

Of these, the district’s largest flood control project is the Upper St. Johns River Basin Project.

The Upper St. Johns River Basin Project at the river’s headwaters was planned to control flooding on the St. Johns River in Osceola, Brevard and Indian River counties following a devastating flood in the 1940s. One component of this project, Canal 54 (C-54), was designed to divert water from the upper St. Johns River into the Indian River Lagoon. However, the upper basin project was redesigned in the 1980s to address environmental concerns with the original design and the role of C-54 changed.

As part of the original upper basin project, C-54 discharged directly from the St. Johns River to the lagoon. Now, C-54 is no longer directly connected to the St. Johns River, but instead serves only as an emergency overflow for the St. Johns Water Management Area to ensure that extreme flood events do not overtop the flood protection levees.

The upper basin project has proven itself several times over the past two decades, protecting the region from flooding during hurricanes Matthew in 2016 and Irma in 2017, as well as the historic and during unprecedented 2004 hurricane season.

Contrary to popular belief, the use of C-54 to release water from the headwaters of the St. Johns River provides no measurable flood relief to the middle basin (east-central Florida). Downstream of the upper basin project area, flood levels are reduced as far north as Lake Poinsett. For example, flood elevations on Lake Washington can be reduced by about half a foot for a 100-year flood event.

As with any flood protection project, there are limits to the level of flood protection benefits and the areas benefited by the project. While the project reduces flooding in much of the upper St. Johns, it does not reduce flooding in the river’s middle basin in east-central Florida, including Lake Monroe, nor further downstream in the river’s lower basin in north Florida. This is because tributaries such as the Econlockhatchee River drain much more water to the middle St. Johns River than the amount that can be drained from the headwaters at C-54 canal. Also, middle basin tributaries do not have comparable flood control facilities as are used in the upper basin.

Collaborating on flooding issues

The district’s role in flooding emergencies
The St. Johns River Water Management District works with local governments and other agencies before, during and after a flood event. The district operates and maintains more than 100 major and minor water control structures, including 11 spillways, three navigational locks, approximately 300 miles of levees, and 30 pump stations, such as the Moss Bluff Lock and Dam in Marion County, Lake Washington Weir in Brevard County, Apopka-Beauclair Lock and Dam in Lake County, the Burrell Lock and Dam in Lake County, and the Harris Bayou between lakes Harris and Griffin in Lake County. Those structures are the only controls the district has of water levels in the St. Johns and Ocklawaha rivers. The district also restores wetlands and floodplain areas that provide flood water storage. Through its permitting program, the district ensures that stormwater is managed on development sites and that new drainage ditches or significant changes to existing ditches are coordinated regionally. The district and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection issue permits to install stormwater systems, but it is often the responsibility of a developer or homeowners association to maintain the systems. In addition, the district assists local governments in emergency response during disasters and to incorporate flood protection elements into their comprehensive land use plans.

Your local government’s role
Local governments are responsible for emergency responses during storms, land use planning, maintaining stormwater/drainage systems, implementing a master stormwater plan for solving flooding, implementing stormwater retrofit projects in older communities that were built prior to stormwater rules, and adopting local laws that focus on building and road elevations, setbacks from waterbodies, fill limitations, sanitary codes and structures allowed in floodplains.

Your role
Individuals can protect themselves from flooding by being proactive ahead of storm season and conducting periodic maintenance. As an individual, you can protect yourself and your property by keeping debris out of storm drains and ditches, reporting clogged ditches to your local government, obtaining flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program, determining whether a home or land you are considering buying is in a floodplain or flood-prone area, and by flood proofing your home.

Click image for a closer view

Time-tested, but not designed to provide relief downstream

Hurricanes and historic rain events have tested the flood storage capabilities of the Upper St. Johns River Basin Project — most recently, heavy rains that arrived with hurricanes Irma in 2017 and Matthew in 2016.

During Hurricane Irma and the subsequent nor’easter, (September to October 2017), a foot of rain fell over the St. Johns River’s upper basin over a 30-day period. People as far north as Mayport and Jacksonville called for relief from local flooding along the St. Johns River, believing that discharges from C-54 canal would help. Discharges up to 2,200 cubic feet per second (cfs) were made through the C-54 canal over a period of 11 days following the hurricane, and an additional seven days following the subsequent nor’easter. This resulted in a diversion of nearly 15 billion gallons of water away from the St. Johns River.

During Hurricane Matthew (October 2016), nearly three inches of rain fell over the upper basin project over a two-week period. Discharges up to 1,300 cfs were made through the C-54 canal for nine days. This resulted in a diversion of nearly six billion gallons of water away from the St. Johns River.

Further back, during the 2004 hurricane season, nearly four feet of rain fell on east-central Florida during a 60-day period, statistically a one-in-200-year rain event. When the river overran its banks in the Middle St. Johns River Basin (Lake Harney north to Lake George, including lakes Jesup and Monroe), some called for the district to provide flood relief by releasing water from C-54 canal, located about 120 miles to the south.

Following Hurricane Frances (September 2004) when discharges were made through C-54, the result was a reduction in flow to the St. Johns River of only 600 cubic feet per second (cfs). Water management district engineers estimate that a 600-cfs reduction in flow from the upper basin project would have resulted in less than a half-inch reduction in the water level on Lake Monroe. Why such a small impact? Because flows out of the uncontrolled tributaries of the middle St. Johns River are much larger than this. For example, flow out of the Econlockhatchee River has been measured at more than 10,000 cfs, and this is only one of several tributaries of the middle St. Johns River.

Water management district engineers have concluded that the flooding that occurred on lakes Monroe and Harney in 2004 was due primarily to local rainfall conditions and that greater use of C-54 would not have reduced the damage caused by these floods.

Click image for a closer view