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Storms waterlog county

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By Alice Du Pont

Heavy rain, at times torrential, throughout the weekend dumped more than 12 inches of rain in Gadsden County, according to the National Weather Service. The rain, which was part of a system that left parts of the Midwest under snow, ended Tuesday morning.

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“This is the most rain we’ve had since (Tropical Storm) Faye back in 2009,” said Gadsden County Emergency Director Maj. Shaw Wood.

While there were no injuries reported in the county, Wood said county residents were lucky there was no property damage.

“With the winds getting as high as 20 to 30 miles per hour in some places, it could have been bad. We were ready because we knew that this was going to be a sustained rain event. This was a good test for us, and we passed,” Wood said.

The only major road closure came early Tuesday afternoon on Highway 12 at the Ochlockonee River near Fairbanks Ferry Road, north of Havana. County Administrator Robert Presnell said the Gadsden County side of the road was closed after Leon County closed its side due to rising waters.

“What damage we have is minor. We had some ditches to fill up and some erosion of shoulders but that was all; we really came through good,” Presnell said.

Some Talquin Electric customers lost power early Tuesday morning. Talquin said in a statement it will continue to monitor the water level for the residents along the low-lying areas for any unsafe conditions, and power will be disconnected if necessary. Customers are asked to call Talquin at 850-627-7651 to disconnect power to facilities before flood waters reach any structures or electrical equipment.

Florida Division of Emergency Management advises residents to use caution this week because the risk of flooding is great. A Flash Flood Watch is in effect for the Big Bend area and River Flood Warnings have been issued for 11 Florida rivers.

“It is important for Floridians to use caution and practice flood safety as additional rainfall impacts saturated area. I urge all Floridians to continue to monitor local media and follow all instructions from local officials. If you encounter a flooded roadway it is important to remember to Turn Around, Don’t Drown,” said Bryan Koon, FDEM director.

For some people, like Wallace Holton of Midway, the high river water means one thing: fishing. As the rains moved off to the east and four days of rain pushed the rushing waters of Little River on County Road 268, fishermen came out.

Holton arrived at the river around 10:30 a.m., and by mid-afternoon had snagged around five catfish. Other fishermen lined both sides of the river bank. Along the banks, about 25 others were casting their lines for catfish and bass. Occasionally a snake was carried along with the rushing water.

“The best time to fish is when the water is high,” Holton said. “Rain, like the one we just had, flushed the insects out and the fish come up to eat them.”