Floodwater after heavy rain keeps Flagler parks closed

By Brittany Jones, Flagler County Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, November 30, 2017, 9:22 PM EST

A week after heavy rain dumped on Flagler County, some local parks remain closed due to flood water.

  • Flagler parks stay closed after week of heavy rain
  • 6.5 inches of rain flooded Flager's Princess Place Park
  • Floodwater making park trails impassable

The parks will officially reopen Friday, but some parts of the park are still flooded and will remain closed.

"Three to five times a week they’re on the trails,” said Kara Hoblick, executive director of the Florida Agricultural Museum, as she patted her horses.

Hoblick and her horseback riding tour guides use their favorite trails in Flagler county’s Princess Place Park.

But right now parts of it is blocked off by caution tape around what looks like a pond.

"Our riders cannot wait to get back over there. It’s such a beautiful setting," Hoblick said.

Crews have been pumping out the floodwater to restore the park's beauty.

 "All of these locations have built up where the water usually runs off to, so it takes longer for it to drain out," said Pickering.

"2017 is the wettest year we’ve ever had recorded since I’ve been keeping record since 1995 onward," said Bob Pickering, Emergency Management Technician.

The county shut down the entire park after storm trackers say last week 6.5 inches of rain flooded the park.

"The trails that are flooded are impassable, and also some of the trails are just not safe to pass because a lot of the trees are falling," Hoblick said. "Horses spook easily so we just try to stay away from the areas with the trees that are about to fall down or have fallen."

The parks will officially reopen Friday, but some parts of the park are still flooded and will remain closed. (Brittany Jones, staff)

The county said there’s several contributing factors to the floods: a very active rainy season, tropical depressions, nor’easters and Hurricane Irma.

"All of these locations have built up where the water usually runs off to, so it takes longer for it to drain out," Hoblick said.

Pickering said up to 72.18 inches of rain has dropped so far this year.

The county said the park, Princess Place, that’s used by more than 300-500 people daily, is now at the mercy of Mother Nature.

"This is definitely not ordinary. I’ve been here as a parks manager for almost 15 years, and I’ve never seen Princess Place like this other than a hurricane," said Frank Barbuti, County Parks and Recreation Manager. "If we get the swamps and we get enough dry season, which we're starting to come into now, history will show that the swamps will recede enough back in place in the grounds will dry up."

Hoblick said luckily they hadn’t felt the financial impact while using their own trails, but they're still looking forward to the park reopening.

"It’s just a part of living in Florida, dealing with Mother Nature and hurricanes. [We're] just waiting and hope for a better year next year," Hoblick said.

She added they’ve got a big equestrian event coming up at the end of January and hope the trails are reopened by then.

The county Parks and Recreation director said they’re working diligently to get it back in shape.

Both Princess Place and Russell Landing official open Friday.