Sunday, September 12, 2004

Flood worry looks 'major' for Sanford: "After days of thinking the city would be safe from the rising St. Johns River, Sanford officials learned Friday that water is expected to breach the city's sea wall in the next 10 days."

St. Johns River near Sanford"The National Weather Service said the river's predicted rise to 7.2 feet above sea level will cause 'major flood damage in Sanford.'"

"The river in the Sanford area rose a half-foot above flood stage on Friday. It was expected to climb another foot—past the height of Sanford's sea wall and the highest level the water has reached in 40 years—by Sept. 20.

"Officials at the National Weather Service's Southeast River Forecast Center said they worsened their prediction because of Thursday's heavy rains and because they tweaked models used to predict the river's rise."

"Flooding across a broad area of downtown Sanford's waterfront could occur sooner if more rains hit the area. Hurricane Ivan would 'just make things worse,' National Weather Service meteorologist Peggy Glitto said.

"National Weather Service officials said that, because of development in the past four decades, it is difficult to determine what will flood in Sanford.

"Sanford City Hall, the Seminole County Courthouse and an old hotel now used for headquarters for New Tribes Mission lie along the lakefront, across Seminole Boulevard from a new scenic trail called RiverWalk. The city's downtown core is a couple of blocks south of the water."

Although the National Weather Service said the river may rise enough to enter the parking lot of Central Florida Regional Hospital, officials there said they don't think they need to evacuate. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers measured the hospital's front door at a little more than 7 feet above the water's expected peak, spokesman Craig Bair said.

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