While several areas near Lake Placid are still battling flood waters from a summer of torrential rains, Highlands County crews continue pumping in the Highlands Park area of Lake Placid where some homes have been evacuated due to water.
County crews brought in large pumps in an attempt to alleviate flooding in that neighborhood, but reports indicate the effort might not be producing the desired results.
Highlands County Road and Bridge Department Director Kyle Green told county commissioners that almost 5 million gallons of water had been moved in just over a week.
Green said the pumping had resulted in a drop of nearly 50 inches of water in the deepest area, referred to as “the pond,” but cautioned that does not translate into similar relief in other areas of Highlands Park Estates affected by high water.
One of the problems has been the varying elevations that create natural “bowls” and paved roads create barriers that retain water in some areas.
Washington Boulevard, one of the key roads in Highlands Park Estates is acting as a dam and forcing water to gather in low areas. Commissioner Ron Handley toured the area and said little progress can be made on one side of that road when pumps drain water from the other side. Green said his crews have pumped as much as 6 feet of water in a single day, only to see it seep back almost overnight. And that was on days when there was no new rainfall.
Money to finance the emergency operation comes from the Highlands Park Special Taxing District. Homeowners association representative Helen Obenchain cautioned that some of that money has been earmarked for other projects, including significant repairs to the neighborhood clubhouse.
A new traffic advisory was issued this week basically continuing road detours already in place. Washington Boulevard remains closed from Lilac Street to Oleander Street.
While Highlands Park Estates has seen the most damage to homes and property, other areas in southern parts of the county are also hard hit by the abundance of water. Holmes Avenue near Lake Placid is partially submerged and lawns in the upscale MeadowLake neighborhood are flooded.
Several pockets of low area near Venus are also experiencing flooding. There have been few reports of structure damage from the standing water near that community but gardens and crops have been ruined and, in some cases, driveways have all but been washed away.
The summer rainfall totals — and they’re still being tallied — are higher than any rain season since 1961.
For information about the pumping efforts or area flooding, call the Highlands County Engineering Department at 863-402-6877.