ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- Several people in Orange Park are urging city leaders to clean up a natural creek that they say is backed up, dirty and a contributor to the recent flooding in their neighborhood.
“It’s gotten worse over the years,” Beth Elrod said. She isn’t the only Orange Park resident who says Dudley Branch Creek isn’t what it used to be.
“We used to have fish and otters, I mean it was a free-flowing creek,” said Kristi Demers, who grew up in this home along the creek says the city stopped taking care of it.
Another neighbor down the street, Sherri Vardas says she also reported the issues to the city. “They have refused to maintain it and keep it dug out and cleaned out.”
After Irma, several homes flooded, neighbors say the backed-up creek was a contributing factor.
“This wasn’t about drainage unfortunately, this was about unprecedented 15 inches of rain and unprecedented storm surge and seasonal high tides that caused this tragedy in our community,” said Town of Orange park manager Sarah Campbell. She says she’s received several complaints from residents in the recent months and the city is looking to the matter.
“I did anticipate some flooding but I certainly didn’t anticipate three feet of water in my house,” Demers said.
Campbell says there is funding in the new budget for a stormwater master plan study and cleanup initiatives. “So that we can put good tools in place to not have these issues going forward.”
Campbell also told First Coast News she’s meeting with several residents next week to address issues with the creek.
“Hopefully now they will step in and get something done,” Elrod said.