Rain causes heavy flooding in Callway and Parker, city officials respond

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CALLAWAY, Fla. — Lisa Pratt, a Callaway resident, came home from work to find her brand new home flooded from the inside out.

“I just got my furniture moved in on Friday,” she said, in tears. “Everything in my home is ruined.”

She and many other residents experienced similar issues as the cities of Parker and Callaway saw 14 inches of rain into Monday. Cars found themselves stuck in floodwater, and some residents were unable to leave their driveways.

“It’s very depressing,” said Opal Gay, a Callaway resident.

On Olokee Street in Callaway, residents say the stormwater ditch is causing the problem.

“I’ve been living here 13 years, never seen them once go into that ditch and clean it out until just the other night,” said Ronald Cowen, another resident living on Olokee Street.

Callaway’s City Manager, Ed Cook, says they do regularly clean out the ditches, however, there’s some places they just can’t reach with the equipment they have.

“So many times, you’ll have a ditch that may run three blocks but there’s no access for us to get in to clean these ditches,” said Cook.

He said the city is finishing up a contract for a grant that would give the city over $3 million to help widen the ditches, allowing for storm water to flow into the proper channels easier. He also said that when it comes to rainfall events like this one, their hands are tied.

“There’s no way the city could have been prepared for this amount of rainfall in such a short period,” said Cook.

The City of Parker’s Mayor, Rich Musgrave, expressed similar sentiment.

“I feel for them, my heart goes out to them,” said Musgrave. “They don’t want to hear it, that there’s [only] so much that any municipal government can do especially with these kinds of events.”

He said Hurricane Michael reversed all the work they did three years ago to clean up their own storm drains. He also said the lack of trees in the area is contributing heavily to the issue, as the trees were able to absorb much of the rain water.

In Callaway, the city says Olokee Street is their number one priority when they begin their ditch widening efforts.

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