How many times have we looked to the long-time residents in our community and asked “Have you ever seen anything like this?” This year, it’s likely happened a lot in regards to the amount of rain and flooding.
Marion County, located in the heart of north-central Florida, is expected to receive 48 to 52 inches of rain per year. So far this year, there are parts of the county that are well over the normal amount of rainfall expected. Most of the Dunnellon area saw 12 to 18 inches above normal as of the end of July. There are other areas of the county that are experiencing that as well. The map below shows the “departure,” or amount of rain above or below the historical average rainfall.
For residents newer to the area, moving here sometime in the last 15 years, the county has experienced fairly dry conditions. Notice the areas well below average in the rainfall departure map for 2003 through 2017. Many can remember just two years ago there was significant concern expressed about lake levels and springs flow, particularly the flow levels of Silver Springs.
Coming on the heels of Irma in 2017 and a very wet year so far in 2018, it isn’t surprising to see so much standing water. Soils are saturated limiting percolation into the ground. This results in more stormwater runoff to all those vulnerable low spots.
We are very concerned, as are you, about the “what if” scenario, specifically what if a hurricane or tropical storm comes our way. Many residents have called about drainage issues and county staff work to address issues brought to its attention on an ongoing basis. There are also proactive actions that residents can implement to help prevent negative impacts of a large storm.
- Many properties have low spots that tend to hold water. If these areas are a problem, consider construction of a French drain system or grading the lot to the front or rear of the lot. When grading the lot, be sure to consider adjacent and downstream neighbors.
- Many homes are built lower than the road and the driveways slope down towards the garage.Consider a permanent solution such as a trench drain along the front of the garage to collect the water. A swale or pipe system will be needed to direct the collected runoff away from the house to a positive point of discharge. Again, when grading your lot or discharging through a pipe, be sure to consider your adjacent and downstream neighbors.
- If the lot has a swale or drainage easement over the property that directs stormwater runoff to the front or rear of said lot, be sure to keep it free from obstructions such as fences, excessive vegetation.
- Please do not use the right-of-way as a parking area for your home. Parking regularly in the right-of-way compacts the soils in the swales usually constructed there and flattens out the area, causing the water to move out of the right-of-way and onto the lot itself.
- Use of rain gutters can help move water from potential low spots and close to the home into a more preferential area of the yard. Rain barrels can be used in association with rain gutters, allowing storage of rain and later usage to irrigate flower beds.
- The county's online interactive map provides not only FEMA flood zones, it also shows best available data called “flood prone areas”. These flood prone areas have been generated using the same engineering methods as a FEMA floodplain, however, they have not been gone through FEMA’s adoption process so do not show on a flood insurance rate map. The online map will show if your property has flood prone area over it.
- Homeowners should check their floodplain status online. After Hurricane Irma, several homeowners who purchased in a cash buy indicated that they were not aware the home was in a FEMA floodplain and did not have flood insurance.
- Residents should know that even if not in a FEMA floodplain, a low risk policy can be purchased.
- Using sand bags is a common temporary strategy to prevent water from entering your home or garage. They can also be used to divert water away from these vulnerable areas to a lower lying part of the yard or into a drainage swale or easement.
If you are experiencing drainage issues, we encourage you to contact your homeowner association or maintenance entity, which may be the county, to investigate.