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Rains bring flooding problems: State of Emergency declared in Lee

By Staff | Sep 26, 2013

The Lee County Board of County Commissioners on Thursday declared a local state of emergency as a result of the nearly 10 inches of rain that fell on the area early this week following heavy summer rainfall.

Much of the work will be done in the North Fort Myers area, where private gravel roads have been made almost impassible, especially if emergency vehicles need to use them.

BOCC chairman Cecil Pendergrass signed the order, more specifically for roads that are impassible and to provide emergency management the ability to shelter large animals that have been affected by the flood waters.

The state of local emergency will last one week; the cost to repair the roads won’t be known until after the emergency.

Rob Farmer, director of Public Safety for Lee County, said during a news conference at the Lee County Emergency Operations Center in Fort Myers that the Florida Department of Transportation and Emergency Management will tag team to remedy roads labeled impassible, for which the standard test is the ability for a fire department brush truck to get through.

Among the roads damaged enough to receive temporary repairs are Jamie, Skipper, Ruden, Henderson Grade and Leetana roads, Dosante and Baughman lanes, all in North Fort Myers.

“The intention is to only bring them up to the emergency vehicle standard. It is not meant to make them new roads,” Farmer said.

Other roads will be evaluated as they are reported, Farmer said, adding the declaration is the only way for private roads to be repaired with public money.

There are also roads in Tice and on Pine Islands that the county is evaluating.

“We respect the fact that families, in North Fort Myers especially, live on these private roads and are inconvenienced by the washouts,” Farmer said, adding that mail delivery and school routes are affected. “Our concern is the life safety issues incorporated with these roads.”

Farmer said the worst is not over, as the water has nowhere to go, since most of it is still standing.

“There is an opportunity for sheet flow to affect the county, more so in the north, and with that there could be more roads that need repair,” Farmer said.

If you feel your roads needs repair or have an animal in need of help, Famer said you should call your local fire district or emergency operations and have the road evaluated.

Weather forecasts predict drier weather beginning Friday and lasting through the weekend, with lower humidity.

Farmer also said there have been reports of large animals, especially in North Fort Myers, standing in flooded areas, which is unhealthy.

A large animal shelter has been set up at the Lee Civic Center for large hoofed animals, but not “exotics,” Farmer said.

Members of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office is there to assist bringing animals in. Owners of horses prior to sheltering are told that health documentation for the animal must be available.

Prior to arriving, contact Jeannie Brawn at 340-8239.

Use Gate 2 off of Old Bayshore Road to access the Civic Center.

Current Coggins paper must be presented for each horse at time of entry.

Owners are responsible for the care of their animals and cleaning of stalls daily.

Animals must stay in assigned stalls; arenas may be used for exercise areas only.

Gate 2 will be open between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. for care of animals.