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April 3, 2014

Flooding issues plague Lafayette County

Mayo — Due to recent heavy rains, Lafayette County has experienced a variety of flooding issues throughout the county. One particular stretch of road on CR 300 just outside of downtown Mayo has some residents begging for help from the county.

“Due to the recent rainfall and rising of the river, we have flooding in four of the five county districts,” said a spokesperson for the county. “At the present time, the majority of the flooding in Lafayette County is considered nuisance flooding and has not displaced any residents. We are currently awaiting an assessment from Suwannee River Water Management District for suggestions to alleviate the current issues.”

According to county officials, the following county roads are closed due to water on the road:

  • SE Murray Road
  • SW Roosevelt Circle
  • SW Patriots Road
  • SE Suwannee Trails
  • SE Caren Lane
  • NE Jeff Walker Road
  • SE Earl Blvd.
  • SW CR 300
  • NW Ezell Landing

In Mayo, the following streets are closed due to pumping efforts by the town of Mayo:

  • SW Clarke Ave.
  • SW Pine Street
  • SW Lake Street
  • SW Mill Street
  • SW Laurel Street
  • SW Oak Street

The town of Mayo obtained a pump from Madison County and piping from the Florida Forest Service and a private individual, officials said. The Mayo Town Council determined pumping and piping locations.

Sharon McNeil owns a residence at 699 SW CR 300, and she said her property has been flooded for about a week already, as of Wednesday, April 2. Residents living there are McNeil’s sister-in-law Margaret Elmore and McNeil’s son James Benstine.

“It used to be my dad’s place,” said McNeil, who is allowing Elmore and Benstine to live at the home.

A road closure sign is posted right next to their property and farther down that road are more residences, according to Benstine.

“There’s a couple homes back there that’s got water all up in their yard and they’ve got sandbags down for walkways and what not,” said Benstine.

“Last year it flooded, but not like this,” said McNeil. “There’s a canal back there that they opened up or dug and that’s where this water is coming from, from the swamps.”

McNeil said as the flood waters were continuing to rise over the weekend, they were out in the yard digging ditches to try to re-route the water, as well as laying sandbags. There is a ditch along the roadway that is filled with water and McNeil said she was out there trying to dig even more to get the water flowing away from her property.

“By Sunday, the whole yard was covered with water,” McNeil said. “So, the sandbags were useless. By Monday, the porch was starting to get flooded. Luckily, it has not gone in the house.”

McNeil said she was told that when the area flooded last year, the county spent about $100,000 trying to pump water from the area, but all it did was bring the water down about one inch.

County officials, however, confirmed they spent about $30,000 in 2013 to repair and mitigate flood damage, not $100,000.

“What they didn’t tell us is they were pumping it from this side to that side (pointing across the street) to this field, and there’s a culvert back down there, so it was going through this field, through the culvert, back around, and it was just circling,” McNeil explained. “So, this year, they said they’re not going to put a pump out here.”

McNeil said she was also told the county had a pump, but that it was sitting in a city official’s yard.

“The hardest part is that we cannot use the restroom,” said Benstine.

“They can’t use the water and they can’t use the bathroom because the septic tank’s been compromised,” McNeil added. “It’s an inconvenience all the way around.”

McNeil said the neighbor across the street who got flooded out last year had to replace an air conditioner and have the septic tank redone.

“Now, the water’s right back up there and she’s got small kids,” said McNeil.

McNeil said she’s been in the area since 1990 and last year was the first year it ever flooded at the residence. She said there used to be a ditch alongside the dirt road next to her property, but from all the road grading that’s been done, the ditch has disappeared.

“So, now, all the water on this side has nowhere to go,” she said.

McNeil said what the county needs to do is re-do the culverts and re-dig the ditches along CR 300 so the water can flow like it’s supposed to.

“That would help a lot,” said McNeil.

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