Columbia County Emergency Management reports that 148 miles of the paved roads have been affected by flooding as well as four bridges.
Temporary repairs have been made on approximately 15 percent of the damaged roads with the remainder not being able to assess because of standing water on the roads. There are approximately 600 miles of paved county roads in Columbia County.
Three bridges, County Road 245, County Road 241 and the bridge at Falling Creek, have been damaged. The Lassie Black Bridge is completely destroyed.
The bridges at County Road 245 and County Road 241 have both received temporary repairs to make them passable. In addition, those two bridges have extensive corrosion damage on guard rails approaching the bridges. The bridge at Falling Creek is being worked on and is expected to be passable some time on July 4. Public Works Director Kevin Kirby says permanent repairs or replacement of the four bridges will take 3 to 5 months to complete.
Columbia County has 465 miles of dirt roads and Kirby estimates that 372 miles of that total have been damaged by the flooding over the past week. About 60 percent of those roads have had temporary repairs. Water standing in the roads continues to be a big issue, hampering repairs. It is estimated that approximately 100 roads remain either closed or are only open to residents living in the immediate area.
The Public Works Department has hired 11 contractors to assist with repairs to county roads with assistance being provided by the two water management districts in Northeast Florida and other agencies. In all, more than 100 employees of the department have been working around-the-clock on repairs.
In addition to the outside contractors, Columbia County has been utilizing more than 90 pieces of industrial equipment on the repair work. Activities such as pumping, mosquito spraying and construction have dominated the time of the department over the past week. Inmate labor has been used to distribute more than 12,000 sand bags.
The damage caused by the storm is estimated to be in excess of $10 million. A final number won’t be known until flooding recedes and public works employees can fully assess the damage to box culverts and the base of roads still under water.
According to the Damage Assessment Teams, more than 400 homes have been affected by the flooding. Included in that count are homes that have been inaccessible, damaged or destroyed.
No dollar value have been placed yet on the amount of damage to the homes of area residents.
All 67,000 residents in Columbia County have been affected in one form or another. An estimate by the assessment team and reports from area charitable organizations indicates that at least 10,000 have been directly impacted by the storm and flooding.
Mosquito spraying is continuing each night, augmented by treating with pellets in areas with standing water. A public shelter remains open at Richardson Middle School. Water testing kits are available at the Columbia County Health Department.