Gulf Place resident Joe Perry had a 7 a.m. flight scheduled out of Fort Walton Wednesday morning. Due to the heavy rain, thunder, and lightning the night before, he called the airline before leaving home to check on the flight's status.
The flight was on time, he was told.
Perry left his house about 5 a.m. to allow plenty of time.
Driving along 30A before daybreak, he encountered some standing water and puddles, but nothing dire at that hour.
With construction ongoing at Oyster Lake on 30A, traffic detours off 30A onto Thompson Road to access U.S. Highway 98.
"There was a lot of water on Thompson Road," said Perry.
However, he had a plane to catch and proceeded. He made it almost to the intersection when his Nissan Altima's engine died.
Another car pulled up alongside but he couldn't roll down his window or open his door to talk to the person due to the depth of the water.
However, water started coming in the vehicle any way.
Fortunately, a Code Enforcement employee pulled up in his truck to the rescue.
Perry waded through 2-3 feet of water to get into the truck and the Officer took him back to his home in Gulf Place.
Perry moved here from Kansas City 10 years ago and said he has lived a lot of places across the United States, but he has never seen flooding like what he encountered Wednesday morning any place he has lived.
Kathy Martin has lived in South Walton since 1990 and currently lives on Chrysler Avenue in the Daughettes, close to the bay.
When she and her chocolate Lab, Scout, awakened Wednesday morning, the water in her yard was almost up to her knees on her 5-foot 5-inch frame. But when a dog has to go, a dog has to go. So, Scout took off swimming to a little higher ground, but still had to go in standing water.
"The water was up to Scout's chest," said Martin. "I have never seen it this bad."
Early Wednesday morning, the Walton County Division of Emergency Management declared a local state of emergency for Walton County and moved the Emergency Operations Center to level two.
The declaration and activation were due to severe weather and flooding throughout the county.
According to weather.com, by Wednesday noon, Santa Rosa Beach had seen 5.40 inches of rain in 24 hours, but residents were reporting several feet of standing water in some areas.
Walton County Schools closed and South Walton High School opened as a shelter for those who could get there.
However, residents were urged to stay off of the roads.