By ALICIA LEONARD
The rains started late last Wednesday and by Saturday, Mar. 28, Walton County had declared a local state of emergency due to road closings and damages. Gusts of wind, downpours and now rising rivers from the rainfall have all cut a swath of damage throughout Walton County.
Walton County Public Information Officer Chris Mitchell said, “We have had many road closures, due to them being underwater and some are severely damaged. For those roads that are totally washed out and not just under water, we are working on them, but it’s going to take time to repair, so, we ask for the public’s patience.”
Mitchell has been busy updating the county’s website (www.co.walton.fl.us.) as roads open. Roads listed as having sustained the worst damage are Collinsworth Road, Hwy. 2, New Harmony Loop and One Bridge Road.
Mitchell sad they are watching the (Choctawhatchee River) at Caryville continuing to rise. It was 14.84 feet at 2 p.m. Sunday. Officials advise residents to have plans to evacuate, if needed. Residents are asked call the Walton County Emergency Operations Center at 892-8065 if they need evacuation assistance.
A section of Interstate 10 between the 73 and 74 mile marker heading east had to be shut down temporarily to remove fragments of trees that looked as if the were snapped in the middle like toothpicks, indicating a quick down-burst of wind and possible rotation, early Friday morning.
One Alabama man lost his life in Okaloosa when his pickup was washed off the road and ended up under water. Authorities say witnesses watched the victim, identified as 75-year-old John H. Stevens, of 3737 Glen Chambers Road in Florala, Al., attempted to navigate a patch of washed out road around Pond Creek Bridge on S.R. 393, north of Dorcas, on Sunday. Witness said that a surge came along and carried the pickup and driver with it. Authorities had still not been able to retrieve the vehicle by Monday due to rising waters.
In DeFuniak Springs, residents watched trees topple and streets flood, but no major damages or injuries have been reported.
With local forecasters calling for showers three more days this week, residents need to take caution when traveling and not attempt to navigate washed out or flooding roads.