Okaloosa residents begin clean-up after Sally, river-side communities experience flooding

Okaloosa County

FT. WALTON BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — In Okaloosa County, residents are beginning the cleanup process as bridges reopened on Thursday afternoon into Okaloosa Island and floodwaters recede.

Up north, however, river-side communities are seeing the opposite.

“I’ve not seen it this way in a really, really long time,” said Susan O’Neil, a Crestview resident. She and hundreds of others across the area are watching the rivers very carefully, as serious river flooding occurs after Hurricane Sally brought extreme rain. 

“I was just kind of seeing how far it was going to come up,” O’Neil said. 

“The water’s just rising at a steady level,” said another Crestview resident, Steve Thiessen. “We’re safe til about 21 feet, so we’re just kind of watching it to make sure everything turns out safe.”

In Crestview and surrounding areas, rivers are expected to rise between 19 and 24 feet, threatening homes in river-side communities. The Shoal, Blackwater and Yellow rivers are all cresting at potentially record-breaking heights throughout Saturday.

This has caused several bridges in the area to be shut down or closely monitored, creating heavy traffic in Crestview on Thursday afternoon. 

“It’s been bumper to bumper since I’ve been out here,” said one resident. 

Portions of major roadways remained shut down on Thursday evening.

While in Crestview, residents felt somewhat safe from the Shoal River, other regional river communities are bracing for the floodwater.

“We’re going to see possibly even record flooding,” said Okaloosa County Public Information Officer, Christopher Saul. “People need to be ready to go at a moment’s notice.”

Okaloosa County officials put another curfew in place on Thursday evening for residents in flooding areas north of Eglin Air Force Base. That curfew will be in place through 6 a.m. on Friday. 

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