State Rep. Fred Hawkins and County Commissioner Ricky Booth visited the City of St. Cloud’s Emergency Operations Center on Wednesday to discuss the city’s storm recovery operations. They met with City Manager Veronica Miller, Mayor Nathan Blackwell and other members of the city’s leadership team.
During the discussion, they went over the following recovery efforts:
Lake Levels: East Lake Toho is expected to crest around 61 feet between today and Friday; it’s currently at 60.9. City officials are partnering with the South Florida Water Management District to monitor the lake levels. We are cautiously optimistic that the lake level will stabilize over the next few days. We have notified more than 4,000 addresses of residents who live in floodplain areas that they may be impacted by flood waters because East Lake Toho is above flood stage. Our mitigation is helping, and the more days we go without rain, the more it helps us. If we get rain again, we will continue to monitor water levels and respond as appropriate. Boat ramps remain closed, and boaters are asked to stay off the lakes for the time being. Pumps and other structures are now under the surface of the water and pose a hazard.
Solid Waste: The City now has 5 clam trucks collecting storm debris. As of this morning, we have collected 81 tons of yard debris since the storm. We have not been charging to remove that vegetative storm debris, and we will continue cleaning it up without billing our residents. Our teams have focused on collecting tree debris in floodplain areas. We will be getting to every street in the city. If we haven’t gotten to your street yet, please be patient. According to the city, they have received a few reports of yard debris being placed under power lines and against mailboxes. Please be advised, our clam trucks cannot pick up items left under power lines for safety reasons, and we cannot pick up items next to mailboxes without damaging the mailboxes.
Wildlife: We continue to get reports about wildlife encounters. Please be aware that wildlife also is impacted by rising waters, increasing the likelihood that you will encounter alligators, snakes and other wildlife. Please do not wade into flood waters, and please be cautious, especially near lakes and other bodies of water. Nuisance alligators can be reported to Florida Fish and Wildlife at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286).
Blackberry Creek area: Water continues to recede as the city continues to pump water from the area into Canal 31. St. Cloud has 5 high-volume pumps running in the 2nd Street Ditch, diverting the water to Canal 31. These operations will allow water in the Blackberry Creek and Commerce Park area to drain.
At the Lakefront, St. Cloud’s crews have built berms and are using sandbags to block off the weirs on the ponds to prevent water from the lake from entering the ponds. The city is using high-volume pumps deployed there that will pump water out of those ponds into the lake. Lowering the water levels in the pond will give overflowing stormwater a place to drain, reducing the potential of street flooding should we get more rain.
St. Cloud continues to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District to manage the water flow into and out of our area, as our neighbors to the north and south of us also are inundated with water from Hurricane Ian.
The following city streets are still closed Wednesday:
• Commerce Center Drive (Old Canoe Creek to Blackberry)
• Blackberry Creek Dr. (Commerce Center to Creek Bed)