South Washington County flooding forces families out of homes

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CHIPLEY, Fla. (WMBB) — Thousands of acres of land in South Washington County are underwater.

Residents like Terry Smith said it feels like the flooding will never go down.

He said the water started rising in 2013.

Then Hurricane Michael hit and that caused a blockage on the waterways.

This year’s heavy rainfall is only making matters worse.

“After Claudette and Floyd this year, it started a rapid rise which in half the time it took before, it went at least a foot higher than it did before,” Smith said.

It got so bad that Smith and his wife had to move out a month ago.

And they’re not the only ones.

Hundreds of families are dealing with the same thing.

“Two of that group right there that are in travel trailers: one in Wewa, one in Fountain. Another group, the Jim Walter home that was down at the end, they moved,” Smith said. “They just gave completely up and moved to Texas. That’s just this little area.”

The flooding stretches for miles.

Recently, Smith discovered something odd, about five miles from his house, off Old Spikes Road.

“Started looking around. Did a little Google satellite map. Said, ‘man this looks awfully funny right here.’ Sure enough, it’s a structure.” Smith said.

Smith calls this structure “Spike’s dam.”

It’s on private property and was allegedly built illegally in the 1980s by a man who is now dead.

Smith believes “Spike’s dam” is likely to be causing a lot of the flooding.

Since it’s in Bay County, Smith said it might be a Bay County issue.

Bay County commissioners said they’re investigating, and trying to help.

Washington County commissioners were unavailable on Friday. However, Smith said the commission has been trying to help as well.

The Northwest Florida Water Management District refused to comment on the story Friday.

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