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Osceola County update: Water still rising; evacuation ordered for one flooded community

briefing
Oscseola County Commission Chairman Brandon Arrington spoke a press briefing Friday afternoon. Image: Osceola County via Facebook

Here's an  update regarding Osceola County, where devastating floods don't seem to be getting better one day after Hurricane Ian came through the area.

Kissimmee has been hit very hard by flooding from Hurricane Ian. There have been high-water evacuations there since early Thursday morning.

Now, the county commission chairman has issued an executive order for a mandatory evacuation at the Good Samaritan retirement village. That's a community just south of Kissimmee.

The county tried a voluntary evacuation -- but a few residents have refused to go, even though the water has risen and remained high.

Sheriff Marcos Lopez is authorized to charge people with a 2nd-degree misdemeanor if they refuse to evacuate.

The sheriff spoke at a press conference Friday afternoon:

"We continue to go in there in pull people, all through the night yesterday, today all day. It's just going to put the firemen and the law enforcement officers at (risk) if we have to keep going back there at odd ours. There's a lot of debris there's fire hydrants that are hard to see that could impact our boats and flip them over."

While it has gone down in some areas, County Commission Chairman Brandon Arrington said it is going to rise even higher in some communities. That's because flood waters from Orange County are flowing that way.

Here’s the commissioner: "If you live in the Reedy Creek area, the Boggy Creek area or the Shingle Creek area, we are at the highest water levels we have seen in my lifetime and there's a good chance a good all of them could continue to increase another foot and rise. So if you are in those areas, please take this opportunity get out and find safe shelter."

So far the county said at least 300 people have been rescued.

As for Osceola County public schools, they will remain closed on Monday and they are expected to reopen on Tuesday. There's just too much water on the roads for school buses.

Earlier Friday, The Hope Partnership in Osceola was asking for donations -- particular clothing and diaper needs for flood evacuees. The CEO, Reverend Mary Lee Downey, said they got more donations than they wanted.

She talked about what those evacuees are going through.

"Most of them, you know, (are) just recognizing the fact they don't have anywhere else to go," Downey said, "and a lot of folks just sharing, What do I go next? What's next? And not having to answers is devasting in so many different ways. They may have lost their cars.

The county's emergency manager said people who may want to help out can visit the Osceola County website Osceola.org and click on the OsceolaREDI button.

And he says there will be opportunities for volunteers.

 

Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.