Hurricane Dorian threatening already-saturated land in Polk County

Polk County

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Parts of Polk County are bracing for already high water levels to get worse as Hurricane Dorian barrels toward Florida.

“That’s a big concern, that we’re already saturated. We’re already really wet. That much more water is going to create flooding across the county,” said Jay Jarvis, Polk County’s roads and drainage director.

Jarvis said most areas in Polk County are dealing with saturated ground, including along the Peace River.

Homes along Crooked Lake south of Lake Wales have been dealing with rising water all month.

“We can’t take it. We’re done. The ground is saturated,” said Quinton Whitmire.

Whitmire’s home sits on the lake. His dock and beach area in front of his home are underwater. He has grown frustrated with the county after, he says, work to clear debris at a nearby weir took several weeks.

“It’s like we got a huge spigot wide open going into the lake and then we got a little bitty drain trying to get it out,” he said.

The wet conditions remind Jarvis of the El Nino cycles from the late 90s and the 2004 and 2005 storm seasons.

The ground is too saturated to absorb any more rain.

“Everything’s so wet. If we get rain, basically that rain converts directly to elevation changes. If we get six to eight inches, you can expect at least that much of a rise,” he said. “There’s no magical thing we can put on the ground to soak up all the water.”

Jarvis advises anyone who has had flooding issues at their home or business in the past to take precautions.

“If you’ve been wet in the past, or if you’ve experienced water in your yard, in your home, you need to be prepared. That could be from sandbagging, to basically trying to keep the water out to evacuation.”

Polk County has opened several sandbag filling locations across the county. You can find a location near you here.


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