JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – Residents of low-lying neighborhoods, like Avondale, watch the tropics closely at this time of year due to the threat of extreme flooding during a storm.
A section of Challen Avenue near Park Street is a notorious area for flooding, even if a single thunderstorm passes. That’s why the threat of rain from a tropical (now Ian) system targeting Florida adds to those residents’ concern.
On Friday evening, data from the National Hurricane Center showed the strengthening of Tropical Depression 9, which could reach hurricane strength and affect parts of Florida. According to the actual trajectory of the system, the amount of precipitation received by the region will be determined.
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“Almost every storm will have them,” said resident Jane Owen. “We don’t want that to happen again and certainly not with a big storm coming.”
“The magnitude of a larger storm means even more of our storm drains will be taxed,” said Shannon Blankenship, executive director of Riverside Avondale Preservation.
Several homeowners in the neighborhood say flooding during storms is the result of an aging drainage system that runs under their street. The city is aware of the problem and has already begun a $1 million drainage project, which included installing new drain pipes several blocks below the Riverside High School athletics.
The new pipes lead to a large storm sewer in Willow Branch Park, where water is routed to the St. Johns River. But since the project is not yet complete, the city says neighbors in the neighborhood will continue to experience flooding.
“The infrastructure capacity in this neighborhood, we’re 100 years old, it’s not the same capacity in newer neighborhoods,” Blankenship said.
Owen remembers what it was like when Hurricane Irma passed.
“The waterline has gone right up to our yards and porches. And if someone tried to drive down our street, the wave would come into our homes, so that’s something we don’t want to happen again,” Owen said.
Residents say that when it comes to those much larger storms, sandbags become the best option to keep water from seeping into the house from above under the front door.
They are asking people to avoid driving in the block in the event of flooding during a major storm.
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