Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.  An online newspaper

Columbia County News

Columbia County Florida, A Rural Area Of Critical Economic Concern: Flooded All Over

Commissioner Ronald Williams gestures about the height of the water.

Last night, Columbia County's governing board met in regular session for the first time since the record three days of monsoon like rains began a little over a week ago, bringing national attention to this north central Florida county, dubbed by the state a "Rural Area of Critical Economic Concern." Board Chairwoman, Scarlet Frisina, sounded water logged herself, as she and the public listened to the reports of County personnel, and representatives from both the state and federal governments, however, it was the words of the public that had folks leaning forward in their seats.

After the department heads and the state and federal representatives weighed in, veteran County Commissioner, Ronald Williams, pointed out that the north end of the County received 26 inches of rain and that there were places flooded that he had never seen flooded before. He said, "You just cannot plan for that much rain," as he explained in some places the water was up to his nose.

Public Works Director, Kevin Kirby, is surrounded by a sea of faces as he delivers his report.

Public Works Director, Kevin Kirby, who is known by some as Mr. Asphalt, for his knowledge of asphalt and the over 1,000 miles of roads in the County, explained that it would still be a while to asses some of the damage, "because there are areas still underwater."

When the officials were done, the public had their turn. All thanked the County for their efforts. There was personal loss and there were problems.

Carol Brown told the Commission that she and her husband Bob worked for 36 years to build their business. She thanked the unknown travelers, who stopped on the highway and helped her carry some of her personal belongings to high ground as the water covered her business. She told the Commissioners, "We've lost everything." "Please put us on record and address our issue as a small business that lost a lot during the flood and that we appreciate what you've done."

A teary eyed Kayla Pierce addressed the Commission. "We appreciate everything that has been done," she said. She explained that where she lives there are two different sections. One has received help and the section in which she lives has not. "We don't receive any help," she said.

Kayla Pierce became emotional as she explained that she was worried about her baby contracting cholera.

Ms. Pierce lives close to the Suwannee County line on South Branford Highway.

In an apparent reference to the disaster team she said, "There were two days they were out there and they never contacted any of us. They contacted the other side of the community and we got nothing. We were stranded the whole time. I have a one and a half year old child that I don't want to get cholera because there's dead animals floating in that water."

Ms. Pierce said that she kept hearing from the county "That it's this person's problem; no it's this person's problem; no this person's got to get it done." "I'm tired," she said, "Somebody's got to get it done."

Commissioner DePratter explained the County went out to look for the dead animal. "They couldn't find it." Commissioner DePratter continued, "Part of your road is still under 15 feet of water. I'm sorry for what happened to you."

Ms. Pierce left the auditorium, where someone was watching her baby. She was met by a member of the Red Cross.

Ms. Pierce said, "We were forgotten."

The Red Cross representative told Ms. Pierce, "I apologize that we didn't get to you. I promise you I will be there tomorrow morning. That's a promise I'll keep." 

Comments  (to add a comment go here)

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Meeting Calendar
No need to be confused - Find links to agendas and where your participation is welcome.

Make a comment • click here •
All comments are displayed at the end of the article and are moderated.