Walton County Opens Evacuation Shelter; Flood Waters Expected to - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Walton County Opens Evacuation Shelter; Flood Waters Expected to Rise

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The potential for rising flood waters has several counties opening evacuation shelters. Walton County is no exception, as the areas around the Choctawhatchee River are threatened.

It was a slow start for the shelter on 269 Church Road in Bruce, FL, Tuesday.

They opened at 3 and didn't see anybody, but volunteers urge those in potential danger to seek out their shelter before it's too late.

"Our biggest threat is that flood right now as it's rising, I've seen it rise constantly in the last couple hours," said Pastor of Bruce United Methodist Church, Woody Bollinger.

The church is now an official Red Cross shelter.

"They're open as of now and throughout the week as long as the threat is there," he said.

Across the low lying areas adjacent to the Choctawhatchee River, homes deal with encroaching water.

The Crawford boat ramp and campground on the river is completely submerged.

Monday, Walton County declared a state of emergency, requesting affected areas to voluntarily seek higher ground.

"It's a voluntary evacuation right now, but the river is supposed to come up a few more feet, so it may force some folks out," said Disaster Operations Director for NWFL Red Cross, Harry Tomlin.

As his volunteers set up cots and had survival packs ready, he said many underestimate the power of storms and flooding.

"That's why you see people that ride out hurricanes and things like that. They just don't realize how much damage can do," said Tomlin.

"So many people sometimes don't want to leave their home, but we really hope it's what it's here for. That people take that advantage, leave their homes, come, sleep on a cot, have a roof over their head, food in their belly, and when it's safe to go back home, go back home," added Bollinger.

The current flood waters are expected to crest by Friday at 20.5 feet, with the potential flood levels equivalent to those in 2009.