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As Sarasota Recovers From Irma, Flooding Along Myakka River A Concern

Ebyabe (Wikimedia Commons)

Like most of the Tampa Bay Area, Sarasota County is focused on restoring power to the thousands of residents who lost it during Hurricane Irma. But something else has emergency officials' attention -- flooding of the Myakka River.

Water has already flooded roadways in an area in North Port. First responders are rescuing residents by boat. North Port is using the George Mullen Community Center near City Hall as a refuge for displaced residents.

The Myakka River expected to flood further north in Venice this week. It also flooded there two weeks ago, although McCrane says most of that water was cleared by this week.

Sarasota County’s Chief of Emergency Management Ed McCrane says officials warned residents a few days ahead of time so they could prepare.

McCrane says many residents who live along the Myakka River have been there for decades, so they have developed a routine when it comes to flooding.

"And they move their vehicles to high ground, and they have canoes and kayaks and they paddle from their home to their car back and forth every day until the water recedes,” he said. “And when it recedes, they clean up and start again."

McCrane says some residents, most likely renters, are surprised by the floods and may leave.

He says if the neighborhoods’ septic tanks go under the level of the flood water, the county usually places portable restrooms around the area and provides other assistance.

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.
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