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County workers trying to repair massive damage left by Debby

9:58 PM, Jul 5, 2012   |    comments
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COLUMBIA COUNTY, Fla. -- All new roadway and construction projects are now halted in Columbia County after the massive damage from Tropical Storm Debby flooding.

Public works continues to make road repairs and pump floodwaters more than 10 days after the record rainfall from Tropical Storm Debby.

This, as FEMA works with businesses and homeowners to provide assistance in North Florida. A disaster recovery center had been set up in Suwanee County by FEMA.

First Coast News went to Taylor Glen Road in Columbia County where homeowners there continue to battle floodwaters. Seven homeowners are unable to get in and out of their homes, blocked by high water over the roadway leading to their homes. It's been like that for 11 days. They are frustrated that they can't get their road repaired.





"I was told it's a private road, you're on your own," said Mona Stalvey, a frustrated homeowner." Noone tells you that when you buy a house in that area, that  that is what they're going to tell you. I asked about pumping, they said can't do it."

"If you get locked in by the flood you're stuck, can't go anywhere," added her husband Carl Stalvey. "My wife missed work for a week."

Their daughter Crystal Henson very frustrated by being stranded, not being able to drive out of her home. She is having to walk through the water to meet someone to take her grocery shopping. " I also have to keep my kids inside, I don't want them playing in the water. One house down there is surrounded by water, I don't want septic to come up in that water, I don't know what is in that water."

Unable to get out until Wednesday , Carl Stalvey lost some of his chickens , on top of what happened during the heavy rains in june 11 days ago.

"It was my birthday Monday,  and Tuesday I lost 160 animals. They just drowned? Drowned, pitiful. This is what keeps me moving, it makes you want to give up."

Stalvey, who is disabled and his wife Mona, tried 8 days to contact a county commissioner. One finally paid a visit Thursday and said the road will be fixed on Friday.

"Great, it's about time," was Mona's reaction.  

Emergency Management's Harvey Campbell believes the Stalvey's were unable to reach the right person , he feels the county would not be that indifferent. But Campbell say Columbia County has been overwhelmed, repairs are slow going because there's a lot of work to do.

"We are a rurual county, and even though we are a large rural county, nothing really prepares you for an event of this magnitude," said Campbell, Public Information Officer for Columbia County Emergency Management. "I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that the Suwanee River rose 32 feet in 2 days."

There are 450 miles of dirt roads in Columbia County. County officials say 90% of them were flooded and damaged. They are working 7 days a week , spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a day to repair the roads, putting down chopped asphalt like they did on one road earlier this week near the Stalvey's.  County officials say it will be a long time before all the repairs are made.

The repair to the road behind the Stalvey's property allows them to come to the back side of their property, walk through the woods and a downed fence and make it home. They were able to finally get their car out through the roadway Wednesday with the help of their son, who walked the road to navigate a safe passageway through the water.

Their son was visiting from South Carolina. He arrived in Lake City Saturday but was unable to see his parents until Wednesday due to the high floodwaters.





First Coast News

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