WATER EVERYWHERE

Many parts of Putnam County under water; about 75 percent of county is without power

From floods to tree debris, from power outages to gas shortages, residents of Putnam County continue to grapple with the after effects of Hurricane Irma.

Kristal White was filling $120 worth of gas in her van and two 5-gallon gas cans at the East Palatka Sunoco. The line for gas stretched for a quarter of a mile.

White and her family were filling the cans to run the generator at her trailer. White looked for gas for two hours, before they decided to wait an hour for gas at the Sunoco, where only four of the six pumps were operational. Hours later, the station ran out of gas.

Prior to Hurricane Irma, White feared for her trailer in the Bostwick area, so she went to her father-in-law’s home in Black Creek. They crammed four adults and two kids into her father-in-law’s shop.

According to the Clay County Emergency Management, floodwaters in Black Creek rose over 25 feet. On Monday, the Whites left Black Creek to avoid the massive flooding.

“It’s been crazy,” White said.

William Gilyard’s truck was next in line. Gilyard waited for 40 minutes for gas with $30 neatly folded in his hands.

In 2016, Hurricane Matthew did $6,000 of damage to his vehicles. Gilyard’s home dealt with high winds and a lot of rain, but this year, Gilyard said his house wasn’t hit too bad.

“Somebody was looking out for Putnam County,” Gilyard said. “At least the part I was in

In Federal Point, Michael Dupont and Douglas Scott were knee-deep in a small stream lugging a large piece of Dupont’s dock onto land.

Dupont finished the dock three weeks earlier and Hurricane Irma tore it apart. Dupont and Scott also removed pieces from the St. Johns River and a neighbor’s yard.

The worse damage to Dupont’s home, built in 1902, was a downed palm tree. He’s lived in Federal Point for 73 years and his current house since 1983. Dupont guessed the house had seen a dozen storms and now back-to-back hurricanes.

Penny Snider and her four sons— rakes and pitchforks in hand— were cleaning debris from their yard next to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

They lost power but it hadn’t come back. But they were set. The Sniders used a gas stove, a gas grill and a well for water. They froze water in milk jugs.

There was no damage to the church or her property. Despite losing power Sunday night, the floodwater didn’t breach the house.

“We’re campers,” Snider said. “We were prepared.”

After the huge gusts of winds, her sons were worried about their treehouse before they played baseball. Snider said Hurricane Matthew was similar. She lost power. They didn’t have power for five days.

Snider’s kids read and slept through most of the storm. Snider said she missed not being able to take a shower, but since her home escaped extensive flooding, she was grateful the storm had passed.

“We’re blessed,” Snider said, “the fact that we could get out today and not be stuck inside.”

The field across from Marisa Annis’ mobile home the road was completely submerged. Her son Cayden Annis, took a four-wheeler out on the water. On Monday, the 13-year-old was fishing for mullet in the field.

“We had mullet jumping out of the water here. As soon as we got home, he (Cayden) was fishing. It’s like Christmas time for him. He was fishing in the front yard,” Annis said. “We were joking like, ‘We’ve got riverfront property now.’”

The previous night, the water covered the road. Annis said her family was in a better position because of Hurricane Matthew. They were mostly worried about the storm surge and losing power.

They boarded their house for the wind and headed to Annis’ father-in-law’s home near State Road 19. Annis was concerned about a tall live oak that looms over their house.

“My entire life I’ve never witnessed anything like this,” Annis said. “These two years have been terrible for storms.”

Rhondia Cook was cleaning her yard after Hurricane Irma. Cook waited out the storm in her Federal Point home. Her family went to Sam’s Club and bought a 20-pound bag of rice, a 10-pound bag of beans, and plenty of canned goods. Cook was shocked the flood water didn’t enter her house.

“I don’t know how it didn’t flood,” Cook said. “It’s truly a miracle.”

In an odd way, Cook said the hurricane brought her family closer together. Her family passed the time by completing puzzles and playing board games. Cook laughed and mentioned her neighbor drove his boat on the road.

A chainsaw and numerous garden tools lay on the hood of Carl and Nancy Thompson’s truck. The Thompsons were busy removing tree debris from the yard of their house, which was built in 1886.

They stayed in a cabin behind the house during Hurricane Irma. Carl Thompson thought he heard a tornado touch down close by.

“It sounded like a jet,” Thompson said.

Two donkeys in their barn were fine. The Thompsons stocked up on supplies prior to the hurricane. Because of the direction of the wind, the Thompson’s home missed major damage, though they were also dealing with a power outage. Overall, Hurricane Matthew had more rain, but two hurricanes in two years were too much, Thompson said.

“The flooding was intense, but Matthew was a few feet higher. Hopefully, we never see this again,” Thompson said. “Because I’m done with it.”