St. Johns Water Management District: Prepare ahead of hurricane season

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CLAY COUNTY – With the start of hurricane season just days away, the St. Johns River Water Management District's website provides easy access to valuable data and information to assist the public and local governments before, during and after severe storm events.

“The early development of Tropical Storm Arthur recently is a good reminder that now is the time to prepare for hurricane season,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “By being proactive ahead of a storm, homeowners can help protect themselves and their property from flooding effects that are typically the biggest problem associated with hurricanes in Florida.”

While hurricane season officially began last Monday, water is a year-round focus for the district. Its Emergency Operations Center team works daily to ensure the agency is ready for hurricane season and other emergencies, protecting the district’s facilities and lands and assisting local governments, state and regional leaders with data, technical and emergency support.

The district's web pages (www.sjrwmd.com/storm/) include links to flood statements and warnings, river stage and flooding data, and local government emergency contacts. Links to the National Weather Service, Florida Division of Emergency Management and the U.S. Geological Survey's interactive map of current conditions in the state are also available via the website at www.sjrwmd.com/data/.

District permitting staff also play an important part in flood protection all year through their work to ensure storm water is managed on developed sites and that new drainage ditches or significant changes to existing ditches are coordinated regionally. The district and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection issue permits to install stormwater systems, which typically then become the legal responsibility of a homeowners’ association or property management company.

Property owners have a vital role in preparing for hurricane season, which officially runs through Nov. 30. You can protect yourself and your property by:

• Keeping debris out of storm drains and ditches;

• Reporting clogged ditches and culverts to local governments;

• Retrofitting buildings to make them watertight;

• Cleaning out gutters and extending downspouts at least four feet from structures;

• Determining who has responsibility for stormwater pond maintenance in your neighborhood – it may be the homeowners’ association;

• Obtaining flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program.

For general water level information and rainfall data, bookmark the district’s hydrologic data webpage. To know who to call when impacted by a storm, visit www.sjrwmd.com/localgovernments/flooding/#state-national.

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