Nestor and Claudia Osorio can’t go to work as their Spring Oaks home sits on an island, inundated in the front and back yards with flood waters caused by Hurricane Irma.

They are one of more than 60 homeowners in the Altamonte Springs neighborhood that are swamped by flooding from the Little Wekiva River.

The Osorios, teachers at Forest Lake Academy, said they were lucky that school has been canceled while their car is stuck in the garage. They barricaded sliding glass doors in the back of the house with sandbags and haven’t had any water intrusion.

One of their neighbors walked out of the subdivision and rented a car to go to work,” Nestor Osorios said. The front yard of Osorios’ home at 136 N. Weathersfield Ave. is flooded and two retention ponds that connect to the Little Wekiva River also overflowed into their backyard.

“We’re really fortunate,” said Nestor, as he scanned the three-foot deep gully in front of this home. “It could have been a whole lot worse.”

His neighbor, Vince Morrison, said he found fish in his swimming pool after the storm.

“I couldn’t tell the pool from the pond,” Morrison said. “It’s a big mess out here.”

Altamonte Springs City Manager Frank Martz blamed the flooding on the 17 inches of rain that Irma dumped on the city.

“When people live along the river, they have a beautiful view when the weather is good, but it floods when we have the largest storm in history,” Martz said.

Many of the Spring Oaks residents were asked to voluntarily evacuate. Several evacuees were taken to Northland Church in Longwood.

That’s where Maxine, a 47-year-old who didn’t want her last name used, ended up after a harrowing experience trying to avoid flood waters from the Econlockhatchee River in east Orange County.

She was staying in her recreational vehicle at The Village Inn & RV Park in Bithlo and began worrying about the rising waters on the Econ River.

“The fire department came knocking on my door and told me to evacuate,” Maxine said. “I was driving through the wind and it opened up the RV roof like it was a can of tuna.”

She turned into a car wash on East Colonial Drive, tucked the RV between two concrete walls and weathered the storm until she could find room in a shelter.

The Econ, Little Wekiva and Wekiva rivers are all experiencing flooding They are tributaries of the St. Johns River, which surpassed record flood levels from 1864 after Hurricane Irma.

The Wekiva River has risen four feet above normal forcing the temporary closure of Wekiva Island, a popular bar that offers canoe, kayak and paddleboard rentals along the river’s edge in Longwood.

Brian Swatts, operations manager, said the docks, boat ramp and parking lot are covered with water.

“We saw five alligators swimming around the parking lot,” said Swatts. “The water is much higher than it was for Hurricane Matthew.”

We know that we are not the only ones affected by this storm and that many suffered greater damage than us,” said a statement by Wekiva Island management. “One thing is for certain, we will have one heck of a celebration once the Wekiva Island is up and running again!”

Authorities expect local flooding to decline as upstream waters from the St. Johns River flow back into the ocean.

About The Author

The youngest of seven children, Terry O. Roen followed two older brothers into journalism. Her career started as a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, where she wrote stories on city and county government, schools, courts and religion. She has also reported for the Associated Press, where she covered the Casey Anthony and Trayvon Martin trials along with the Pulse massacre. Married to her husband, Hal, they have two children and live in Winter Park. A lifelong tourist in her own state, she writes about Central Florida’s growing tourism industry for Florida Politics and Orlando Rising.

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