CHIPLEY, Fla. (WMBB) — Miles of land across South Washington County are underwater and have been for most of the last three years, but many residents are in for a treat this Christmas.
After many complaints and meetings, residents felt like the flooding in their neighborhood would never go away.
“A lot of anxiety. A lot of frustration. Probably a lot of anger with some people because you just felt like in some cases you just weren’t being listened to,” resident Mike West said.
Washington County Commission Chairman Tray Hawkins said it’s difficult to get with all the state agencies and organize a plan that follows protocols and meets regulations.
They now have that plan for those who have the potential to be flooded. Jacksonville’s municipal utility, JEA, is at the forefront of it.
“You know with Christmas coming, and we don’t want people to be displaced from their home so we’re trying to get it done pretty quick and start lowering the levels,” JEA Treatment and Pumping Maintenance Coordinator Richard Lehman said.
JEA set up 4,400 feet of pipe that take water from Pine Lake and release it into a pond locals know as Cox pond.
Workers then pump the water from Cox Pond to a nearby watershed owned by Northwest Florida Water Management.
And there’s more good news for the 24 people in the original buyout program from Hurricane Michael.
“Within the next 90 days we’re hoping that we’re, or we’re going to buy out 75% of the homes that are affected,” Hawkins said.
Once that’s done they’re going to open up a funding mechanism for the other 25%. JEA hopes the water will go down a foot in the next two weeks.
“Our voices are heard and that’s why that we’re where we’re at today,” Hawkins said.
The county is working on another buyout program for those affected. Commissioners urge you to apply.