The Suwannee River Water Management District and the National Weather Service combined to present a public forum on Jan. 18, 2018 explaining the changes made to adapt for improved flood prediction during emergencies. Three new flood forecasting points will be established to better cover the upper Santa Fe River, which is more prone to rapid flash flooding than the lower Santa Fe. These points will be at Worthington Springs, O’Leno, and High Springs.
Thanks to Tom Mirti of SRWMD and Kelley Godsey of the National Weather Service, who made the trip and explained in detail what happened during Irma, and what has been done to improve forecasting. Huge amounts of rain fell in a short period of less than 30 hours in an area previously not well monitored, resulting in record-breaking river levels and lots of property destruction.
The Thursday meeting with the revised flood procedures came about directly from an emergency gathering last Oct. 4 at Rum 138 to provide a venue for flood authorities and flood victims. Our post then was “Irma Aftermath Meeting at Rum 138 Allows Public to Meet Officials. See also “Columbia County Gets a D Minus.”
The Oct. 4 meeting, conceived, organized and hosted by OSFR advisor Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, revealed the serious flaws present in the emergency preparedness of Columbia County and in the flood warning system of the Suwannee River Water Management District. This meeting took place weeks after the storm hit, and several Santa Fe River flood victims had still not been able to reach county authorities.