The Black Creek is down from its historic level of flooding, but there is still a way to go.
I took a ride down the Creek today with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office to see some of the damage done by Debby. The amazing thing was not just seeing how high the level’s rose, but understanding how powerful the current could be.
At one point we passed a home that was well up the embankment. The bottom half of the home was stained- a mark of how high the water had risen. You can see the image in our storm gallery to really understand what more than 25’ of water looks like. I know it’s a figure I had trouble grasping until my trip today.
And despite how fast the water was receding, we are days out of the worst of the storm and there were still docks flooded along what should be the shore. A few boats were damaged, some of the docks were broken or overturned, and debris gathered in every corner. This again was testament to the strength of the water- there were refrigerators, washing machines, huge logs either mixed in with the debris in the water or, even more startling, a few feet away from the current water level where the flood left it.
Clay County Sheriff’s Office Captain Ronnie Gann has been working with the county for more than 31 years. He says in that time he has witnessed 20 major floods- but the one left from Debby was the worst.
“We’ve had places in this county in the last two or three days that you never would have dreamed would have flooded,” he said while we were on the Creek.
While we were riding along, he and the other deputy steering the boat would shout out to the residents cleaning up their homes to make sure everyone was doing well. Many of them he knew by name, if not by the home they lived in.
And that tight knit feel continues to resonate for the people living along the Creek.
I spoke with one woman who actually lost a home shortly before this, but relocated and built her current home along the Creek. She and a few friends were working on drying out all the items that had been soaked from the storm. She estimated $50,000 in damage to her current home, but to her that was just the cost of creek living, and she has no intention to move away.
Residents like her face at least a month of cleanup according to the Sheriff’s Office.
It’s an idea I brought you earlier in our storm coverage- that the community along Black Creek is a tight knit one that doesn’t really fear a flood. They know what to do to prepare and the first thing to do to clean-up. While many people told me this was the worst flooding and damage they had seen in sometimes a life of living in the area, not a single one had any interest in moving away.