Local News

Torrential rains flood roadways

SEBRING - A rainy season like no other in years with daily downpours has saturated the land in many areas of Highlands County. Another downpour, coupled with a drainage issue, ends up being too much water with no place to go. That's what happed Saturday evening when Highlands County announced a number of road closures due to flooding, including: State Road 66 and Payne Road, U.S. 98 and County Road 17, Oak Beach Boulevard and Gresham Street and Sparta Road off U.S. 27. The water has receded in most areas, but his department is prepared in the event of more flooding, County Road and Bridge Supervisor Henry High said Monday,
"We have hundreds of sandbags at the ready; yes, we are at a high state of readiness now because the ground is saturated; the lakes are full; it takes time for the water to go away now," he said. High said while a hurricane will blow through, dumping a lot of rain at one time, daily "torrential rain" is a different deal. A road crew was sent Monday to check Clifton Street, in the Lake Josephine area, where water remained on the roadway. "It looks like some drainage is clogged up; maybe somebody put in a driveway or two that shouldn't have been that is blocking the water up," High said. Clifton Street residents talked Monday about the reoccurring flooding problem on their block. On Saturday, about a half a foot of rainwater flooded across the street, which is off Oak Beach Boulevard, according to resident Gary Plants. The flood waters moved halfway up his driveway and into half of his front yard, he said. "It's ruining all of my shrubberies," he said. "I've been here four and half years and three or four times a year it's always the same." His wife, Grace, said it has been the worst this year. Plants noted that a couple of driveways block the culverts on Clifton Street and he pointed to standing water in a wooded area across the street from his house. "I just want to see some dirt flying," Plants said he told a road and bridge supervisor on the phone earlier in the day. William McEnaney said he is not sure what the road crew can do to fix the problem. Ten years ago he was told a ditch near his house was going to be extended to a pond. "It's a mess," he said. "You need boots." Danny Kendell said the culvert by his house is full of mud, and the standing water in the neighborhood has created a terrible mosquito problem. He shovels the culvert out from time to time, he said, but, "I can't get out their every day and get it." mvalero@highlandstoday.com 863-386-5826