Shelter opens in North Port as floodwaters rise

Reporter: Erika Jackson Writer: Jackie Winchester
Published: Updated:
The City of North Port is telling residents in some areas of North Port to consider evacuating as water levels rise after heavy rains from Tropical Storm Elsa. (Credit: WINK News)

The remnants of Elsa’s heavy rains and downpours are sticking around, forcing some neighbors out of their homes and causing a larger concern for the rest of hurricane season.

High levels of flooding in Sarasota County are becoming North Port’s problem, and the water level is higher than the city has seen in decades.

The City of North Port on Thursday told residents in some areas to consider evacuating.

“We are currently seeing concerning levels. A significant amount of rain fell on the City and the thousands of mostly undeveloped acres to our north. Those waters are now traveling south through the City, looking to ultimately exit into Charlotte Harbor,” the City said in a press release.

The areas seeing rising water and most likely to be impacted are those in the North Port Estates area and those along the Myakkahatchee Creek Corridor. The city said Public Works had exhausted all available resources to relieve pressure from the system and it is not a system issue, but a capacity issue.

“We could see some significant rise in levels over the next 72 hours. The water could come at a level not seen here in the City in decades. Already water in some areas has come up two feet overnight. Some roads have nearly four feet of water on top of them.”

People who spoke with WINK News said they saw high water levels after Hurricane Irma in 2017, but nothing like this. The water is deeper than 4-feet in some areas, too high for cars to pass through, meaning some people found themselves trapped in their homes.

“This morning, it came to the back right there around the corner and it has slowly just been creeping up,” said Vanessa Carr, who has watched her backyard turn into a pond.

“It’s going to continue to rise here and we’re gonna keep flooding.”

City leaders expect the water to continue to rise through the weekend. Emergency crews have already had to rescue a handful of people.

“If those people are still in there, they probably won’t be able to get out,” said Zane Smith.

Rural areas to the north in Sarasota County received a lot of rainfall during Elsa. That water is now moving south toward Charlotte Harbor, first passing through North Port, where it’s getting trapped in the low-lying streets surrounding the Myakkahatchee Creek.

“More rain would not be helpful. Let’s put it that way. But what is coming is already coming,” said Josh Taylor, spokesperson for the city.

“There’s not much else you can do but just watch it and hope. Maybe pull up fishing poles,” Carr said.

Emergency responders have boats, airboats and high-water vehicles on standby in case more rescues are necessary. A WINK News crew saw a family and their pets rescued Thursday afternoon.

The city has opened a call center for any residents who have specific concerns on the flooding. That number is 941-429-7169.

The city has partnered with Sarasota County to open a shelter for residents at 8 p.m. at the Morgan Family Community Center, 6207 West Price Blvd., in North Port.

Pets must be crated while at the shelter, and showers and cots will be available. Food will not initially be provided.

The city said they also have resources to help evacuate large animals as soon as possible. For help, contact the call center at 941-429-7169.

Sandbags will be available at 6 p.m. Thursday at the football fields by the George Mullen Activity Center along City Center Boulevard, east of Sumter Boulevard. Bags, sand, and shovels will be provided for you to fill. Bags will be first-come, first-served and available until supplies run out.

Impacted areas (Graphic provided by City of North Port)
Photo provided by City of North Port
Photos provided by City of North Port

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