Seminole County officials expect more flooding as water from Ian collects in rivers

County to provide bottled waters at Winter Springs High School

Flooding has been a persistent issue in Seminole County since the arrival of Hurricane Ian, and communities along the Little Wekiva River are no exception.

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Seminole County leaders are warning people to expect more flooding to hit the region as high water recedes in some areas and moves into area rivers and streams.

The excess water is expected to swell the Little and Big Econ rivers, which may cause them to jump their banks. Because of that, the city of Oviedo has reopened a sandbag location Friday at the Evans Street public works facility, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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County officials also announced bottled water would be distributed Friday at Winter Springs High School, near 130 Tuskawilla Road. Officials asked for people to only enter from Tuskawilla Road and follow directions to the distribution point on Central Winds Drive.

One case of bottled water will be handed out per car, and they’ll be available as supplies last, officials said.

Seminole County has been impacted by flooding countywide, especially in places like Geneva.

“The most important thing we’d like to stress is that even though the rain has stopped, we now have the challenge of preparing for more flooding, specifically in the Geneva area,” said Seminole County Fire Department Chief Matt Kinley. “Much of the water and rain around the state is going to flow through the St. Johns River and it’s going to come right through Central Florida and into Seminole County. This is going to produce more historic flooding.”

News 6 interviewed a Geneva boater surveying the damage caused by Hurricane Ian on his boat.

Geneva is located near Lake Harney and the St. Johns River, which has seen a major increase in water levels due to rainfall from Hurricane Ian, the National Weather Service announced Friday. The NWS added that a flood warning remains in effect along the St. Johns River near Lake Harney.

Flooding has also been an issue near the Wekiva River, which is connected to the St. Johns River.

Sabrina Steen lives two houses down from where Little Wekiva Road closed due to flooding from the Little Wekiva River. She said about 100 feet of her property has been washed into the river since the late 1990s.

“I’m just afraid my whole house is going to drop in the river,” Steen told News 6. “I had 75% more backyard. It went straight downhill, but I had a yard that went like halfway out, it seemed, to the river, and it’s taken water and trees as the years went.”

According to Seminole Emergency Manager Alan Harris, the county will be opening three new sandbagging locations Saturday.

  • The old Geneva fire station, 217 2nd St., Geneva
  • Wayside Park, 4150 Highway 17, Sanford
  • Westmont Park, 624 Bills Lane, Altamonte Springs

Harris said those locations will open at 8 a.m. on Saturday.

“Over 1,200 homes here in Seminole County have been affected by flooding or damage to the homes,” Harris said. “Some of those completely destroyed.”

Seminole County leaders are warning people to expect more flooding to hit the area as high water recedes in some areas and moves into area rivers and streams.

Harris added that the county is also contending with the cleanup of 1 million yards of cubic debris, saying that it would likely take weeks if not months to clean up.

“This is a lifetime event — a 500-year flood if you will,” Harris said. “So we’ve never seen this swell. We’re doing our best to respond as quickly and effectively as possible.”

Harris said the county is working to consolidate its emergency shelters and move them out of schools so that classes can resume as soon as possible.

The county plans to consolidate down to two shelters, one for general population and the other for people with special needs.

“The goal (Saturday) is to move those shelters to a secondary shelter location. We’ve identified that location, it’s a church in Longwood. I don’t want to announce it until they’re open and fully operational,” Harris said.

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About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.