Eye on the Tropics

Hurricane Irma: Lake Harney's water levels to stay at flood stage for days

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — Residents who live on Lake Harney near Seminole County’s Geneva neighborhood hope sandbags will be enough to protect their homes from flooding.

The St. Johns River, which was swollen by Hurricane Irma’s rains, connects to the lake and its waters have creeped into nearby yards. Water levels peaked Friday.

Seminole County Emergency Management officials said the water levels could stay above flood stage into next week. 

Officials said that as many as 100 lakeside homes could fill with up to 2 feet of floodwater if the lake’s water levels continue to rise.

Glenn Williams Jr. lives north of Lake Harney on the St. John’s River. He hasn’t been back to his home in a few days because of the rising waters.

“It’s probably 12 inches right now inside the house,” Williams said. “This is about the highest I’ve seen it.”

More than 2,500 sandbags have been delivered to a fire station for homeowners to pick up.

Water levels had begun to subside Thursday, but afternoon thunderstorms caused the water to rise again.

Resident Mary Woods, who lives near the lake, said water levels are the highest they've been since Tropical Storm Fay hit in 2008.

"This is probably the second-highest water that we've seen since we've lived here," she said. "We're going to feel the effects of this for probably a couple more weeks."

“The water has been going up progressively every day,” said resident Teresa Tournour, whose daughter owns a farm in the area.

The family had to release pigs, emu and horses because of flooded pens.

While the animals don’t mind the cool water, it’s been rough for the Tournour family.

“The rain probably brought anther two feet up into the yard,” said Tourner.

The rising water has also brought out alligators.

“The gators are coming right underneath the house, right near the steps, and they are having to wade through the water, including myself,” she said. “It’s actually very terrifying.”

She said she wants things to go back to normal quickly, but doesn’t have much hope.

“If it’s anything like Faye, it took three months to get it back beyond my house,” she said.

The Florida Highway Patrol said troopers could close nearby State Road 46 if water spills over the roadway.

The road connects Seminole County with Volusia and Brevard counties. Floodwaters have already washed away portions of its edges and submerged residential roads.

The Seminole County EOC predicts the St. John’s River will crest Sunday morning.

“Everybody had a different idea on that and I guess it depends on if we get any more rains in the next couple of days,” said resident Louis Pohlman.

Officials said they continue to monitor conditions and are using models to predict rising waters. They said that it could take weeks for the water to recede because water levels typically increase more quickly than they decrease.

Read: Seminole County Irma damage includes flooding, possible sinkhole that swallowed van






Comments on this article