SARASOTA COUNTY - More wet weather could be on the way, and the area is already saturated. This weekend in North Port, some residents had to leave their homes as water levels rose.
It has barely rained there the last two days, but still water is over the road around Backert Road near Sumter Boulevard and I-75. Thankfully not too many people live in the area, but officials say if a significant rain like a tropical storm were to come soon, there would be some issues.
Nearly 7 inches of rain have come down in North Port in July, a month which typically sees less than 8 ½ inches. In just the past few days, some North Port residents received Code Red phone advisories from the city.
"There were people that voluntarily evacuated…went to a family member of friends home for a couple of days," says Deputy Chief Scott Titus of North Port Fire Rescue.
Since Friday the water levels have gone down. Officials are balancing how to drain the city's many canals and spillways with the potential threat of a storm not too far off. "We had a meeting this morning and talked to our road and drainage crews in anticipation of that. Still trying to get this water moved out now. We have all the gates open and are moving the water as quickly as we can," says Titus.
Doug Bailie has lived in North Port Estates for more than 25 years. He's had to take a boat to get to his home before. He says it doesn't just have to be raining here, it could be the thousands of undeveloped acres further north, too. "32,000 acres…all that water comes from Manatee County into Sarasota County.”
Doug says he's not concerned as of yet, saying the city has done a much better job in recent years of conducting road and drainage projects. He says those who live near the creeks like the Myakkahatchee are lower and should pay close attention. "The people down at the creek, they have issues."
Officials say they hope the water levels continue to drop and we get lucky missing another storm once again. "There is not a whole lot else we can do other than monitor the conditions in case it does flood. There really isn't anywhere else to put the water. We are saturated," says Titus.
Officials say for every one inch of rain North Port gets, the Myakkahatchee typically rises a foot. They believe three more inches about now could cause serious issues.