NORTH PORT - Even if the rain doesn't fall in North Port, much of it ends up there. With all the recent rain on the Suncoast, the city is balancing millions of gallons of rain water in its canal system.
Thousands of acres of preserved lands and runoff from rivers to the north flow right through the city.
“I have not seen anything comparable to this since I've been in the city of North Port."
Bill Vest with Public Works helps oversee the nearly four dozen damn-like water control devices in the city, which deal with a lot of water from as far away as Manatee County. "All of that drainage flows into the big slough, which is the Myakkahatchee Creek eventually and comes through here."
It’s a balancing act of raising and relieving the walls on hundreds of miles of canals while not overflowing the areas they drain into. “If the creek is already full, then that water has nowhere to go. What we are dealing with is trying to make that space; deal with that and introduce it into the system in a safe way that still reduces and mitigates as much flooding as possible."
Residents in low lying areas say the city has gotten better in recent years.
So far emergency officials say things are flowing smoothly. "They’ve prevented some of the street flooding we have seen in the past," says Michael Frantz with North Port Fire & EMS.
A few low lying areas are seeing water over the roadway but no homes are being threatened. "At this point in time we have some localized standing water. Most of that will drain off if it stops raining long enough. The Myakkahatchee Creek, which goes through the heart of North Port, is at flood stage."
It takes a lot of planning before, during and now hopefully after the heavy rains. A water dance you could say. "I don't know about an art form, but there is definitely a lot of preparation that goes into it. At the same time a lot luck," says Vest.