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CONVERSATIONS: In Brevard, "this is a flood event"

Courtesy the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network
Courtesy the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

For a check in on conditions in Brevard County, WMFE's Amy Green talked with county Public Information Officer Don Walker.

WALKER: The bans are coming through. So we're having periods of rain followed by periods of no rain, but we've seen it heavier in some areas.

But the good news so far is we're not experiencing any flooding events. We are having some street flooding and things like that. But no houses flooded at this point.

GREEN: There are projections of 10 to 12 inches of rain in your area with this hurricane. Can you help radio listeners visualize, what does that look like in Brevard County? Ten to 12 inches of rain?

WALKER: Well, some people in Brevard County already have a pretty good idea of what that's going to look like, because they were experiencing flooding before the storm ever hit the map.

So we expect the bulk of the rain that we're going to get, or at least the heavier amounts, to be up in the north part of the county, where they could get as much as 18 or more inches of rain. Overall, we're expecting at least 10 inches of rain.

That's going to create some water runoff problems because you can't run that much water into the river without it backing up.

So we're going to see some street flooding. We're probably going to see a lot of yard flooding. And if we do get 18 inches of rain in some of those areas, we're going to probably likely see some water encroachment into houses.

GREEN: There are some shelters available there in Brevard County. Are there many people at those shelters?

WALKER: So our shelters, we opened three shelters, and we can cater to more than 1,000 people. And as of about 3:15 p.m. today we had 59 people total in all three shelters, and four pets. And we have over 38, no excuse me 32 county workers manning those shelters.

GREEN: Do you expect those numbers to grow as you continue to receive more rain, and there's potential for more flooding?

WALKER: Yeah, I would anticipate that. We're going to start seeing some of the hurricane or tropical storm winds this evening. And we certainly expect the rain will continue.

And I would imagine a lot of people that felt it was best to stay home might be thinking differently in 12 hours from now, that they might even move to higher ground.

GREEN: There was a tornado warning in Brevard County. Are there reports of any damage?

WALKER: No, we haven't had any damage reports. We've been under a tornado watch mostly for the day, a tornado warning in some areas. But fortunately, so far no reports of tornadoes.

GREEN: Many Brevard County residents may remember Tropical Storm Fay back in 2008. There was significant flooding after that storm, and a lot of it was because of drainage problems. What kind of improvements have there been since then to address some of those issues?

WALKER: Well, we've done a great deal of drainage improvements since then. They've added pumps to areas that, you know, are traditionally flooded with just routine, rainy-season rains. We cleared a lot of ditches. We've done a lot of improvements.

One of the reasons we had flooding recently is because we had a lot of rain in a short amount of time. Now we're looking at an event, we're going to see a lot of rain over a long period of time. So hopefully that'll give chances for some of those areas to catch up before they start flooding.

But you know, this is a flood event. We see this more as a rain event than we see it as a wind event. And that's the way we're gonna have to tackle it.

And, you know, I think it's interesting that you mentioned Tropical Storm Fay. Because that's how we're looking at this event.

We certainly don't want the rains we had during Fay. But you asked me previously, what people might expect. Well expect Fay-like conditions. So that's where it's going to be like for most of the county.

GREEN: What else do Brevard County residents need to be aware of at this point?

WALKER: Well, I mean, there's no reason to be on the road unless you've got to go to work. You know, a lot of businesses are closing down for the next day or so.

But you know, if you don't have to get outdoors then stay inside stay dry. Stay safe, because you know a road can go underwater, and it looks like a road still, and you'll easily drive into life-threatening conditions, so you don't want that to happen.

We're still expecting tropical force winds, wind gusts. Make sure you've got stuff picked up around your house, and it's not blowing around and ripping your pool screen and stuff like that. You know, and just ride this thing out if you can as best you can.

Amy Green covered the environment for WMFE until 2023. Her work included the 2020 podcast DRAINED.
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