Madison County Sheriff Ben Stewart reports that the Bellville Bridge has been re-opened for travel.
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Madison County Sheriff Ben Stewart reports that the Withlacoochee River is quickly receding. However, many roads remain closed and are impassable without hazards and serious risk of safety. Sheriff Stewart explains for those with properties located along the flooded areas that the Sheriff’s Office will continue to patrol these areas and monitor conditions by land and vessel. Sheriff Stewart cautions motorist to not drive on roads with what appears to have low levels of water across them considering the unobvious erosion of roadways concealed under the waters. The Sheriff’s Office is making attempts to accommodate those with interest of specific properties as time allows.
Sheriff Stewart further reports that even though the Withlacoochee is receding, the Suwannee River continues to rise and is expected to crest at Ellaville by Friday at 12:00 noon at 55 feet. This level should not require any road closure of Highway 90 at Ellaville and for comparison the river crest at Ellaville in 2009 was 63.8 feet. The River at Dowling Park is expected to crest at 47.4 feet with the crest in 2009 being at 54 feet.
The Sheriff’s Office may be contacted at 850-973-4001.
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – Johnny Curtis Bedgood, 46, of Madison, Florida, was arraigned today in federal court following his arrest on charges of drug trafficking and firearms offenses.
The three-count indictment filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges that on August 16, 2012, Bedgood possessed cocaine and more than 28 grams of crack cocaine with the intent to distribute. The indictment also charges that he possessed a .22 caliber revolver and a nine-millimeter pistol in furtherance of that offense. In addition, Bedgood is alleged to have possessed these firearms after conviction for a felony offense. The indictment was announced today by Pamela C. Marsh, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
Bedgood pled not guilty to the charges at his arraignment hearing before United States Magistrate Judge Charles A. Stampelos. Trial is scheduled for May 7, 2013, in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee.
If convicted, Bedgood faces a mandatory minimum term of ten years up to life in prison for the drug offense, a mandatory, consecutive term of five years in prison for possessing a firearm in furtherance of the drug offense, and a mandatory term of fifteen years in prison for possession of a firearm as a convicted felon.
U.S. Attorney Marsh credited the arrest to the joint efforts of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the United States Marshal’s Service, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael T. Simpson is prosecuting this case.
An indictment is merely an allegation by a grand jury that a defendant has committed a violation of federal criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Madison County Sheriff Ben Stewart reports that in the midst of dealing with the flooding river issues the Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from a resident that came home to discover her home being burglarized and the perpetrators rapidly driving off.
The incident occurred on Monday the 4th day of March 2013 at 1:00 PM. The residence was located not far from the flooding waters on Lambs Ear Drive. The owner provided a detailed description of the vehicle fleeing the area and Sheriff Stewart located the vehicle and conducted a traffic stop on Old Blue Springs Road. Corporal Mike Maurice soon arrived at the traffic stop and an investigation determined that the two occupants had burglarized the residence and been staying there for several days. Other Officers at the scene further determined that the two subjects had been cooking meth while staying at the residence.
The Sheriff’s Office Drug Task Force arrived on scene and conducted the drug investigation and field tested the substance that tested positive for methamphetamine. Investigators from Hamilton and Taylor Counties assisted with the identification and dismantling of the “meth” cook. SWS Environmental from Jacksonville was contacted by DEA as a contractor to perform the lab clean-up and removal. Evidence that was collected includes meth oil, scales, paraphernalia as well as video and pictures. The samples will be sent to FDLE lab for further weights and chemistries.
The subjects were identified and charged with the following:
1. David Edwin Blackman, W/M, DOB: 08/06/1988, of 6609 Clyattville-Lake Park Road Valdosta, Ga.
2. Brandy Lynn Placzkowski, W/F, DOB: 10/0/1992, of 395 Clover Ave Madison, FL.
Charged: Burglary, Theft, Trafficking Methamphetamine, Manufacturing Methamphetamine
Submitted by Taylor County Sheriff’s Office
In May 2011 the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), Madison County Sheriff’s Office Drug Task Force, and the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office Drug Task Force began a joint investigation into a marijuana trafficking organization based in Madison and Taylor Counties.
Information obtained over time by the Madison and Taylor County Sheriff’s Office’s indicated large quantities of marijuana were being received by a group of family members residing in Greenville, FL and sold for distribution to numerous people, primarily in Taylor County.
Exhaustive efforts from all agencies involved using surveillance, controlled buys, search warrants, etc. led to federal indictments in the Northern District of Florida and state charges on four individuals who are residents of Madison County, nine individuals who are residents of Taylor County, and one individual who is a resident in Duval County. The investigation also resulted in federal charges being sought against multiple other individuals involved in the Marijuana trafficking conspiracy in the Middle District of Florida.
Of those charged locally, 10 have entered guilty pleas, including:
Gregory Thompson, Greenville Fl., who pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute Over 1000 kilograms of Marijuana in February, 2013 before U. S District Judge Mark Walker. Michelle Thompson, Greenville Fl., who pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute Over 1000 kilograms of Marijuana in February, 2013 before U. S District Judge Mark Walker. Robelia Thompson, Greenville Fl., who pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute Over 1000 kilograms of Marijuana in February, 2013 before U. S District Judge Mark Walker. Jayson Messer, Greenville Fl., who pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute Less Than 50 kilograms of Marijuana in February, 2013 before U. S District Judge Mark Walker. Steven Mink, Perry, Fl., who pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute Over 100 kilograms of Marijuana in February, 2013 before U. S District Judge Mark Walker. James Kinsey, Perry, Fl., who pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute Over 100 kilograms of Marijuana in January, 2013 before U. S District Judge Robert Hinkle. Troy Gunter, Perry, Fl., who pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute Less Than 50 kilograms of Marijuana, and Distribution of Marijuana, in January, 2013 before U. S. District Judge Robert Hinkle. Jamie Gunter, Perry, Fl., who pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute Less Than 50 kilograms of Marijuana, and Distribution of Marijuana, in January, 2013 before U. S. District Judge Robert Hinkle. Charles Williams, Perry, Fl., who pled guilty to Sale of Cannabis, Possession +20 grams of Cannabis in October 2012 in the 3rd Circuit Court of the State of Florida. Donald Parker, Perry, Fl., who pled guilty to Possession +20 grams of Cannabis, Possession of Cannabis With Intent to Sell in November 2012 in the 3rd Circuit Court of the State of Florida.
In the investigation there were 5 search warrants executed in Taylor County and 1 search warrant executed in Madison County. In the investigation law enforcement seized over $180,000.00 in cash, 14 vehicles, 2 trailers, 3 pieces of equipment, 23 firearms, and approximately 130 pounds of marijuana. In addition, law enforcement is seeking forfeiture on 15 pieces of real property.
Buddy Liles will appear in concert on Saturday, March 9, at 7 p.m. at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Opry Hall.
According to his website: Buddy accepted the Lord at a young age in Newport, Kentucky. He states: “I depend on the Lord in all that I do,” Psalms 37:4, 5.
Buddy’s barritone/bass interpretation of many songs have thrilled and warmed hearts across America. His first “full time” singing job was with the Orrell Quartet of Detroit, Michigan in 1963. From 1966 to 1968 he sang with the Landmark Quartet out of the Landmark Baptist Temple of Cincinnati, Ohio. Buddy was a member of the Florida Boys Quartet for more than 25 years, performing on the “Gospel Singing Jubilee” many years, and singing on over twenty “Singing” and “Preaching” cruises by Templeton Tours.
Buddy was the recipient of the prestigious MARVIN NORCROSS AWARD at the National Quartet Convention in 1995, known as one of the most honorable awards in Gospel music. . He also received the FAVORITE BASS AWARD given by the “Singing News” Magazine. He has appeared on many of the BILL GAITHER VIDEOS, singing a solo on the “Sing Your Blues Away” Video. He sang at a Congressional Breakfast in Washington D.C., and appeared on Nashville Now, Nashville Prime Time, and The Today Show from New York and has toured Israel with Gospel Concerts of California. Buddy was also inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
Buddy is now a solo ministry and is scheduling concerts, revivals, camp meetings and special services.
The Opry Hall is located in Jellystone Campground, just off Old St. Augustine Road, just south of Interstate, Exit 258, in Madison.
A love offering will be received.
Madison County Sheriff Ben Stewart is taking the opportunity to respond to a recent case that has generated numerous inquiries. On Sunday night March 3, 2013 at 10:19 PM, David Cliff Richardson and Heather Elaine Webb were arrested and charged with Loitering or Prowling and Possession of Burglary Tools. The facts of this case are as follows:
Earlier during the day of March 3, 2013 the Madison County Road Department and Sheriff’s Office located barricades at River Park Road and River Timber Loop. The public boat ramp on River Park Road was still accessible, however just around the bend the rising water was rushing across River Park Road (This being the same location of a tragic loss of life as a result of drowning during the flood in 2009). Deputies had just completed rescuing two men and four animals by airboat that were visiting from South Florida and got trapped by the flood on River Ridge Road just south of the boat ramp.
Simultaneously, the Madison County Sheriff’s Office was in the process of launching a second boat for Security Patrol and Rescue responses. Deputies were stationed at the barricades to prevent motorist from driving down to the boat ramp and the water rushing across the road. At approximately 12:00 PM David Cliff Richardson drove up to the barricades in a 2005 White Chevy Trail Blazer co-registered to Heather Elaine Webb. Webb was a passenger in the Trail Blazer. Deputies informed Richardson that the road was closed and no access was allowed. Richardson told the Deputies that he would turn around, instead he continued to drive down pass the boat ramp and around to the water crossing the road. Another Deputy in an unmarked Sheriff’s Office truck left the boat ramp to make contact with Richardson. When the Deputy located Richardson he was turning around at the water. Richardson left the area.
Due to the rising water all vehicles had to be moved from the boat ramp back to the barricades at River Timber Loop and a second set of barricades were set up at River Park Road and Juniper Drive.
A few hours later the MCSO patrol boat located Richardson, Webb and another male subject at a residence they had accessed by boat. Again they were instructed to leave the flood area without incident.
On this same date but now 10:19 PM, David Cliff Richardson and Heather Elaine Webb returned to the barricades located at River Park Road driving the same white Chevrolet blazer, stopped briefly, backed up and then drove over the barricade pushing it out of place and breaking the Sheriff’s Office “DO NOT CROSS” tape. A deputy was located at the intersection of Juniper and River Park Road witnessing the actions of Webb and Richardson and immediately activated emergency lights and conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle.
Richardson immediately exited the passenger side of the vehicle and started approaching the Deputy before being ordered to stop. Richardson repeatedly refused to follow the directions of the officer and was secured in hand restraints while the deputy spoke with the driver. The driver, Heather Webb, advised that she was following Richardson’s direction to drive through the barricades. Richardson made several statements of discrepancy regarding 3 different properties he owned that he wanted to check and then changing his story to knowing that he could not get to his properties because they were under water to finally stating that he just wanted to look at the water.
Both occupants were arrested and charged with loitering or prowling. Incident to arrest, a vehicle inventory discovered bolt cutters, wire cutters, claw hammer and gloves conveniently located and obviously placed in an orderly fashion just inside the back hatch of the Chevrolet blazer next to a cooler of alcoholic beverage. There was also an open container of alcoholic beverage inside the vehicle.
Additional charges of possession of burglary tools were added to both occupants.
Sheriff Stewart explains that prior to this specific incident, there was ample opportunity for these defendants to communicate and coordinate with Sheriff’s Office personnel their concerns and/or assistance. However they chose a vigilante approach which warranted consequences.
Sheriff Stewart further explains that it is the duty and authority of his Office to protect and serve the many citizens that have been forced to evacuate the flooded area and leave their valuables behind. The Sheriff’s Office will continue to do their duties and responsibilities and enforce the law regarding trespassing, loitering or prowling and burglary. There are 20 road closures spanning from North of Bellville on the Withlacoochee River to South of Boundary Bend on the Suwannee River. The Sheriff’s Office is utilizing every resource to promote safety and compliance. The barricades are in place for a purpose and for those that choose to violate the law there will be consequences.
Sheriff Stewart greatly appreciates the cooperation of the many citizens affected by the flood during this crisis and encourages everyone to exercise caution while the river is at flood level and to contact the Sheriff’s Office with any questions or concerns.
Herman Gilbert Richardson, age 69, died Saturday, March 2, 2013
Graveside Funeral Service was held Monday, March 4, 2013 at San Pedro Cemetery. Visitation was held Sunday from 5 – 7 at Beggs Funeral Home.
He was born in Wauchula and moved to Madison in 1976. He worked as a Mason and was a member of Reepers of Harvest Church.
He is survived by his wife: Helen Cruce Richardson of Madison; 2 daughters: Retha Walker (Danny) of Hamilton County, and Rhonda Cruce-Dowdy (Mike) of Madison; 1 sister: Inez Jenkins of Wauchula; 8 Grandchildren and 4 Great Grandchildren.
Beggs Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements: 850-973-2258.
Larry Bruce Bell, age 69, died Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Big Bend Hospice.
Funeral services will be 11:00 AM, Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at Beggs Funeral Home, Madison Chapel with burial at Florida National Cemetery, Bushnell, FL.
He was born July 7, 1943 in Ft. Worth, Texas, and moved to Madison 26 years ago.
He worked at NFCC and was a life- time member of VFW Post 1933, Silvis, IL, Madison Country Club, Elks Lodge. He was a member of Crossroads Baptist Church, Valdosta, GA. He is survived by his wife: Betty Bell of Madison; 1 son: Chris Bell of Mableton, GA; Step-Mother: Florence Irene Bell of Des Moines, IA; Sister: Sandy Wilson of Spokane, WA; Sister and Brother-in-Law Michael and Sharon Cuppett.
In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to Wounded Warrior Project, Madison County Community Bank, PO Box 834, Madison, Florida 32341.
Beggs Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements 850-973-2258.
Madison County Sheriff Ben Stewart reports that the Sheriff’s Office has assigned extra patrol duties to Deputies at locations along the Withlacoochee River. Sheriff’s Deputies and Officers with the Florida Wild life Conservation Commission (FWC) are on constant water and highway patrol to deter trespassing, Loitering/prowling, burglary and theft.
On Sunday the 3rd day of March 2013 at 10:20 PM, Sheriff’s Deputy conducted a traffic stop on a white Chevrolet Blazer occupied by David Cliff Richardson and Heather Elaine Webb. The vehicle had driven through a physical barricade on River Park Road. An investigation proved the occupants were loitering/prowling and a search of their vehicle incident to arrest discovered numerous burglary tools.
David Cliff Richardson, DOB: 11/10/1979 of Lee Florida and Heather Elaine Webb, DOB: 05/09/1984 of Lee Florida were arrested and charged with the following:
Loitering/Prowling and Possession of burglary tools.
Sheriff Stewart encourages persons with property concerns to contact the Sheriff’s office prior to attempting to return to their property while the river remains at flood level. Sheriff’s Stewart further states that Sheriff’s Deputies will continue patrolling the areas in full force and conduct traffic stops and inquiries on those found in the areas. The cooperation of all citizens during this crisis will be greatly appreciated.
The Sheriff’s Office may be contacted at 850-973-4001.
~GA wastewater plan overflow may impact Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers~
TALLAHASSEE- The Florida Department of Health (DOH) today issued a caution to residents in the counties surrounding the Withlacoochee and Suwannee rivers. The Withlacoochee Water Pollution Control Plant in Valdosta, GA has overflowed into the Withlacoochee River, which flows south, connecting with the Suwannee River.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is scheduled to collect water samples from the area and the testing results will be available within the next week.
Until further information is known regarding possible contamination of the rivers, citizens are urged to avoid contact with the Withlacoochee and Suwannee rivers. This includes those individuals in the counties of Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Madison, and Suwannee counties.
Water contaminated by wastewater overflow presents several health hazards to humans and may contain untreated human sewage with microbes that could cause gastro-intestinal and other diseases.
If you have been in contact with the river water, DOH urges you to wash your hands thoroughly before eating or drinking. Children and elderly as well as people with depressed immune systems are particularly vulnerable to disease so every precaution should be taken to avoid the river water.
For more information about the potential health effects of wastewater overflow, residents are encouraged to contact their local county health department. To find contact information for your county health department, please visit http://www.doh.state.fl.us/chdsitelist.htm.
Submitted by Wayne Money
After a disappointing two game road stretch where the Varsity Cowboys lost to Suwannee, FL 4 to 3 and Ringgold, GA 16 to 6 , the Cowboy’s baseball team is back at their winning ways. The team traveled to Tallahassee Thursday for a Class 4A Distract 2 contest against the Godby Cougars and came home with a decisive 9 to 1 victory. As a team, the Cowboys had six hits, ten free passes and five RBI’s. With the win, their season record now stands at 3 wins against 2 losses, with a district record of 1 win and 0 losses. Zack Money picked up his second win of the season pitching a complete game with 12 K’s, 3 free passes and 0 earned runs.
On this cold evening, DJ Mcknight led the way at the plate going 1 for 2 with his 3rd HR of the season driving in 3 runs while being intentionally walked twice. Patrick Bowen, Zack Money, Chad Oliver and Akevious Williams added hits, and Jake Latner and Chad Oliver each picked up an RBI. Two big time defensive plays were made in the outfield; one diving catch by Akevious playing in right field and one over the shoulder grab by DJ in center field. Also contributing were Wayne Driggers, Brandon Hammond and Drew Richardson with runs scored. More news worthy of mentioning is the Cowboys check in this week at number 6 in the Big Bend area rankings as voted by Next level baseball.
The Cowboys continue on a nine game road swing today at 4:00pm against Melody Christian Academy in Live Oak.
For more on Cowboys baseball including roster, schedule, and stats please visit the following site at MAXPREPS.com
The Madison County High School Jazz Band, the Cowboy Nights, would like to announce their annual “All You Can Eat Dessert Concert” for 2013. The concert will be held Friday night, March 15th at 7:00pm in the Madison County High School gym. The Nights will be performing from a variety of jazz genres including blues, swing, Latin and popular music. The special guest artists will include: Shelly Smith, Lynne Sapp, and Jay Hicks. There will also be a trombone duet featuring Mark Branham and Gabe Krell. Student members of the Nights include: Lyric Davis, Taylor Sever, Jesse Smith, Courtney Bailey, Adam Kalinowski, William Terry, Cullen Gudz, Joshua Stafford, Kammeron Joseph, Victor Perez, Tyler Belinski, Jorge Tojeiro, Casey Phillips, Cheyenne Sheffield, Jessica Ross, Kaitlyn Farnell, Jamarian Robinson, William Reaves, Roxanna Whitman, and Kyle Courtney.
The concert this year will also serve as the premier performance for the new Madison County High School Chorus. This group of young people will be performing for the very first time after an absence in the vocal arts at MCHS for over ten years.
Tickets are available for $5.00 through March 14th and will be $6.00 at the door. You may order tickets at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 850.973.5753.
The officers recognized were as follows: Corporal Jarrod Lauth, Deputy David Myers and Deputy Odell Livingston. Livingston also was recognized for his highest level of enforcement activity concerning motor vehicle occupant safety.
Sheriff Stewart further reports that the “Click it or Ticket” Campaign starts Friday the 1st day of March 2013 and continues through Sunday the 16th day of March 2013. Sheriff Stewart encourages all motorists to wear their seat belt and have their children properly restrained in accordance with Florida law.
The incident happened yesterday, February 28, when Madison County Sheriff’s deputies stopped a vehicle for a speeding violation. During the course of the traffic stop, an altercation occurred, shots were fired, and the chase began. FDLE, at the request of Madison County Sheriff’s Office, is investigating the use for force.
The suspect’s vehicle, driven by Terrick Shadon Lundy, 26, crashed in Baker County and Lundy fled on foot. He was apprehended a short time later in a wooded area near I-10 in Baker County. A passenger in the vehicle, Ronnie Bernard Williams, 31, was apprehended inside the vehicle.
Lundy is being charged with aggravated assault, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and felony fleeing and eluding. Charges against Williams are pending.
The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the traffic accident and may pursue additional charges.
In celebration of Water Conservation Month in April, the Suwannee River Water Management District (District) invites schools within the District’s region to learn about the importance of water conservation. This includes all of Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor, and Union and parts Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Jefferson, Levy, and Putnam.
For their efforts, we would like to recognize participating schools on the District’s website and send a news release about their projects to the local newspapers. The schools’ water conservation efforts will also be recognized at our Governing Board meeting on May 16.
Teachers may visit www.mysuwanneeriver.com/waterconservation to find project and/or lesson plan ideas. Some ideas that might be considered are:
· Create a poster using water conservation tips;
· Write an essay about how to conserve water; or
· Access the water use calculator to estimate their home water use and make a pledge to conserve during the month of April.
Lessons or projects could be done as a class or by individual students and could easily serve as an addition to a science lesson or a science or FFA club project. The District will accept projects from grades K-12.
Please send project descriptions and/or photos of your projects by Friday, April 19 to Vanessa Fultz at email@example.com. For more information, please call 386.647.3150.
LIVE OAK, FL, February 28, 2013 – Most river gages on Georgia tributaries to the Suwannee River are cresting after back-to-back storms earlier in February. As the peak flows approach Florida, river forecasts are showing a potential for higher stages on the Withlacoochee, Alapaha, middle Suwannee, and Santa Fe rivers than earlier forecasts indicated. The rainfall distribution was similar to storms in March and April of 2009, which caused record floods on the Alapaha and Withlacoochee Rivers. The recent rains were less widespread and intense, resulting in lower expected stages than the historic 2009 flood. However, the forecast crest at the Withlacoochee near Pinetta could be higher than other recent floods, including ones in 2008 and 2003. The crest forecast for Pinetta called for moderate flooding at 3 feet above flood stage by Saturday March 2. The Alapaha River at Statenville is expected to rise another 5 feet by mid-week, to nearly 3 feet above flood stage. Similar stages were seen during a February 2010 flood. Downstream on the Suwannee, the river at Ellaville could crest at least 2 feet above flood stage starting late Monday March 4. As the crest makes its way downstream, people on the lower Santa Fe River could see the river rise above flood stage by Tuesday. River forecasts are issued by the National Weather Service Southeast River Forecast Center near Atlanta as needed during times of flooding. Forecasts and river levels can be found at www.mysuwanneeriver.com and on the District’s automated river level line at 386-362-6626 or 1-800-604-2272 (toll-free in Florida). People with property along the rivers are advised to check the forecasts frequently. Rainfall totals over the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the upper Suwannee River, were much lower than in 2009. Conditions at the Suwannee River around White Springs are average for this time of year and suitable for canoeing and kayaking.
A FLOOD WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR THE WITHLACOOCHEE RIVER NEAR PINETTA (CR 150). THE WARNING RUNS FROM LATE FRIDAY NIGHT UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE OR UNTIL THE WARNING IS CANCELLED. THE RIVER LEVEL IS CURRENTLY 68.5 FEET WITH FLOOD STAGE AT 79 FEET.
CURRENT FORECAST FOR THE WITHLACOOCHEE IS FOR IT TO RISE ABOVE FLOOD STAGE BY EARLY SATURDAY MORNING AND CONTINUE TO RISE TO NEAR 81.6 FEET BY MONDAY EVENING. MINOR FLOODING WILL BEGIN AT 79 FEET AFFECTING UNPAVED ROADS ALONG THE RIVER.
ALL PERSONS WITH INTEREST ALONG THE RIVER SHOULD MONITOR THE LATEST FORECASTS AND BE PREPARED TO TAKE NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS TO PROTECT
LIFE AND PROPERTY. DO NOT DRIVE CARS THROUGH FLOODED AREAS. IF YOU SEE FLOOD WATERS…REMEMBER TO TURN AROUND AND DO NOT DROWN. WE URGE YOU TO TAKE PRECAUTIONS NOW, DO NOT WAIT UNTIL CONDITIONS HAVE DETERIORATED AND SAFETY IS AT RISK.
An additional 6-10” of rainfall fell in the Withlacoochee and Alapaha river basins in the last 5 days, resulting in the potential for flooding on those rivers and further rises on the Suwannee River.
The Alapaha and Withlacoochee Rivers are major tributaries of the Suwannee River. More than half of the watershed contributing to the Suwannee River lies in Georgia. In March and April of 2009, more than 16” of rain fell in Georgia over 10 days, causing major flooding downstream in north Florida. The recent storms were generally not as intense as 2009, and flooding of the severity seen in 2009 in Florida is not expected.
River forecasts are issued by the Southeast River Forecast Center near Atlanta. The Withlacoochee River near Pinetta is expected to crest below flood stage early next week, while the Alapaha River near Statenville should crest near flood stage this weekend .The Suwannee River at Ellaville, downstream of where both rivers flow into Suwannee, is expected to rise at least another 10 feet in the next week, but a rise above flood stage on the Suwannee is not expected at this time. In the longer term, the rising Suwannee should cause the Santa Fe River to back up, as it did in 2008 and 2009. The forecast for the Santa Fe River at Three Rivers Estates calls for a crest below flood stage next week.
Megan Wetherington, the Suwannee River Water Management District’s hydrologist, said that while severe flooding is not expected, people with interests on the Withlacoochee, Alapaha, and Suwannee rivers should monitor forecasts closely for the next several days.
“The intensity and timing of local rainfall between river gages can cause unforeseen impacts. It’s best to wait a few days to see how the Georgia gages crest before letting your guard down. Every flood is different,” Wetherington said. “It takes 8 to 10 days for the crest to travel from the Georgia border to Branford, so people farther down the Suwannee have time to watch and make decisions as the forecasts become more definitive.”
Locally, 4 -6” fell in Madison, Hamilton, and Suwannee counties. This rainfall will not impact the rivers significantly, but will improve aquifer conditions. Conditions on the upper Suwannee around White Springs will continue to improve, after falling to extremely low levels in the last month.
Elsewhere, the Aucilla River in Madison and Jefferson counties also received more than 6” of rain. Minor flooding is expected, with a crest above flood stage later this week.
The District provides daily flood forecasts to the public. Visit the District’s webpage www.mysuwanneeriver.com and look for Flooding Information & Updates.