The Walton County Sheriff’s Office, in coordination with the Walton County Board of County Commissioners, has issued a local state of emergency for Walton County as of Tuesday, Feb. 26. This issuance of a local state of emergency is in response to local areas of flooding in the southeastern part of the county in and around the Choctawhatchee River. The current flood waters are expected to crest by Friday, March 1 at 20.5 ft.
As part of the issuance of this local state of emergency, the following actions are being taken by the Sheriff’s Office in order to protect the safety of the citizens and visitors of Walton County:
1. The Sheriff’s Office has issued a voluntary evacuation of all affected and surrounding areas. The order will be in effect beginning at3 p.m. today for all low-lying areas south of County Road 181-C to the mouth of Choctawhatchee Bay, including the Bunker and Steel field Areas.
2. A shelter will be open at 3:00 PM on Feb. 26 for evacuees at the Bruce United Methodist Church located at 269 Church Rd. in Bruce, Fla.
Those who decide to take advantage of the shelter should bring the following items with them as needed:
2. Important medications
3. Special medical devices such wheelchairs, walkers, oxygen, etc.
4. Diapers, infant formula, baby foods if needed
5. Bedding, pillows, blankets, etc.
6. Puzzles, books, small games for children
7. Food and water for 72 hours.
3. The Sheriff’s Office will be working with the utility providers in the area in the case that services may be delayed.
At this time, it is anticipated that flood waters in the southeastern part of the County in the area of the Choctawhatchee River may reach levels equivalent to those in 2009. The public is reminded to be vigilant and cautious when dealing with local flood warnings.
Updates or further information will be provided to the public through the Walton County Sheriff’s Office website, facebook account, Walton Alert (Facebook account), twitter and other local media outlets. All questions can be answered by calling the Walton County Sheriff’s Office at 892-8186.
Here's the Daily News' version of this story, courtesy of reporter Angel McCurdy:
The Walton County Sheriff’s Office today announced a local state of emergency due to area flooding.
The issuance is for residents living in southeastern Walton County and around the Chactawhatchee River, according to a release from Walton County. Officials will continue to update information as it becomes avaliable.
Okaloosa County Emergency Management spent Tuesday morning monitoring areas around the Shoal River, but Ken Wolfe with Emergency Management said the river likely would not reach the point of needing to evacuate residents.
The Emerald Coast is expected to have a chilly week as it dries out from four days of heavy rain.
A cold front that moved into the area Monday night could bring temperatures as low as the mid- to upper-30s.
“We’ve got cold temperatures through the rest of the week,” said Cody Lindsey, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mobile. “But the severe weather we’ve been having is expected to subside.”
Okaloosa, Walton and Santa Rosa counties saw significant rainfall throughout the weekend. The National Weather Service on Monday issued an alert warning of severe weather including widespread rain and periodic thunderstorms.
“There’s been a powerful storm front from the west and thunderstorms across the western Panhandle in association with a warm front from the Gulf,” Lindsey said. “The two systems combined produced large storms with the main impacts being heavy rainfall amounts and flooding.”
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Some areas of Okaloosa County received 3 to 5 inches by Monday morning. Those totals increased with evening rain, but no record rainfalls were reported.
Localized rainfall was predicted to be as high as 7 inches in some areas by Monday evening.
“It’s been a pretty wet period,” Lindsey said. “No records have been broken as of this year, though.”
Officials in Okaloosa County spent Monday monitoring areas prone to flooding and sent out warnings to residents living along Yellow, Shoal and Blackwater rivers.
Some roads near all of the rivers were closed early Monday due to flooding, said Ken Wolfe with Okaloosa County Emergency Management.
By late Monday, the Shoal River had reached 9.5 feet, surpassing its 8-foot flood stage.
“It has to get up to 12 fee to really start impacting homes,” said Randy McDaniel, emergency management director for Okaloosa County. “If it is still climbing at the same pace (Tuesday) ... we have a shelter that we can open.”
In Walton County, flooding was reported in multiple areas including around several bridges, Walton County Sheriff’s Office Spokeswoman Wendy Ammons said.
Santa Rosa County’s Deaton Bridge also was closed due to flooding.
The heavy rain left about 1,000 people in Okaloosa and Walton counties without power from Sunday night to early Monday, said Natalie Smith, spokeswoman with Gulf Power.
No power outages were reported in Santa Rosa County, she said.
“The outages we have had we’ve been able to take care of them really quickly,” Smith said. “We're always prepared with weather like this. Right now, we're just waiting and watching.”
Lindsey said the cold front will bring cooler temperatures that last through Sunday as well as the potential for a light freeze with temperatures in the middle and upper 20s by later in the week.
Closures by County:
Hwy. 393 at Shoal River
Hwy. 393 at Relief Bridge
Hwy. 393 at Pond Creek
Lake Ella Road at Pond Creek
Old Dorcas Road at Shoal River
County Line Road (Hwy. 393 and152-CLR)
Horsecreek at Big Horse Creek
West Kelley at Big Horse Creek
Santa Rosa County
Bryant Bridge Road
Crooked Creek/County Road 183 Bridge
Sherwood Road Bridge