Friday, August 29, 2008

Fay flooding: Isn't it ironic, don't you think?

A bench that once rested alongside Lake Washington is now in Lake Washington.

The public dock at Lake Washington Park also is sort of inaccessible. I talked to another man who was taking photos yesterday. He was amazed by the scene and said that just a few weeks ago, he had to throw a rope upward from his airboat to attach it to the dock above.

Having missed the real action, I hit the swampy streets of Brevard County yesterday to see Tropical Storm Fay's aftermath for myself.

The first thing I noticed really stood out as the most remarkable thing I saw all day. But oddly, it didn't surprise me.

In the Parkway Meadows neighborhood - which is next door to mine, Baymeadows, and experienced some of the worst flooding - the sprinklers were on in full force. We get 2 feet of rain, and people still see the need to water their lawns. Floridians need to make sure their lawns don't get one blade of dry grass.

In Parkway Meadows and in most of the communities I visited, there were large puddles, but the water had mostly receded. The retention ponds that give Florida its beauty, however, were overflowing. Another strong rainstorm would certainly turn Melbourne into Lake Melbourne.

A pathetic line of sandbags is strewn in front of a house in the Parkway Meadows subdivision.

Sandbags still sat near the outside walls of some homes, and there were piles of carpeting, boards and discarded furniture at the end of several driveways along John Rodes Boulevard, a few miles from my house.

One of the more ironic aspects of the storm was that it flooded the woods that were burned in the May wildfires in Palm Bay.

Probably even more ironic than the sprinklers was the scene of the flooded forests that were burned during the May wildfires that destroyed 33 homes in Palm Bay. The last time I had seen those trees, they were on fire. Now, they're wading in a foot of water.

On my way back home, I drove through another rainstorm that wiped out visibility. But it lasted two minutes, then the sun came out again.

My last stop was at Lamplighter Village, a trailer park off John Rodes Boulevard that was hit hard by Fay. The devastation was still apparent, though it was no post-Katrina NOLA. It wasn't even Cedar Rapids or Des Moines.

The village is developed around a large retention pond - or lake, as they call it in Florida. Interstate 95 runs along the west side of the village and John Rodes is to the east. Because they're both elevated, the roadways effectively create the sides of a bowl that held the stormwater during Fay. The lake couldn't retain all that Fay had to offer, so water spilled into the homes surrounding it.

The National Guard, I think, has had a presence in the neighborhood since Fay hit. Guards were posted at the entrances to make sure only residents were allowed access. I must have caught one sleeping inside his vehicle because he jumped out of it well after I drove past him. So I was lucky to get into the community.

Workers were gutting trailers of their contents and throwing the waterlogged material into piles along the road. Some of the lakefront homes have docks, but they weren't reachable, as there was water surrounding them, too.

I had to drive through 6 inches of water in the roadway. If I complain about that, I can't imagine what it was like during the storm.

A worker secures a flooded car on the back of a truck that was loaded with destroyed vehicles from the Lamplighter Neighborhood of Melbourne.

One of the saddest aspects, though, is a large tractor-trailer that was being loading with cars destroyed by the flood.

View Larger Map

To get a sense of what the neighborhood was like before the flood, take a look at the Google Street View map that is embedded above. The house you see is the one I photographed, below, with a man working outside.

There is a dock to the right of this photo's frame. It's surrounded by water.


Anonymous said...

The sprinklers running have more to do with a timer not being shut off. I've asked at my apartment complex that maintenance be sure the system is turned off for a while.

What's really annoying is to see automated sprinklers that don't have rain shut-off sensors. Or, if they do, the sensors forget that it rained a few hours ago.

Who do you know that calls a retention pond a lake? That person should be shot.


Andrew Knapp said...

Yeah, I knew that about the sprinklers. It's still stupid. Just think: The water for the sprinklers is taken from the retention ponds. The water spit out from the sprinklers runs off and goes back into the retention ponds. How pointless.

As for the lake thing, ask anyone in real estate, and they'll call it a lake in a heartbeat, then charge you $50,000 more if you're buying or $50 more if you're renting.